Crisis management is a shared responsibility that extends from the boardroom to the field. A better understanding of crises can help an organization’s members prepare for any eventuality. Learning about crisis management training can help you understand its significance and determine whether you want to take such a course. This article discusses the definition of crisis management training, why it is important, what the best leaders do in times of crisis, how to adapt and lead in a crisis, and some frequently asked questions related to this field.
What Precisely is Crisis Management Training?
Crisis management training is preparing professionals to assist organizations during a crisis. The training can include a discussion of various scenarios, such as natural disasters and financial recessions, that may have a significant impact on the health of an organization. Crisis management training can include specific instructions on how to handle specific situations.
What is the Significance of Crisis Management Training?
Crisis management training is important because professionals’ ability to effectively handle business-related crises can have a significant impact on long-term organizational success. The overall goal of this training is for an organization to provide tools, knowledge, and practical skills to employees who are not experts in crisis management so that they can effectively manage crises if they occur. There are various approaches to crisis management training, which vary depending on organizational needs, company culture, and available resources.
7 Things Best Leaders Should Do in Times of Crisis
Because of the vast amount of change and the prevailing uncertainty, a static system will not work for leaders in the current state of affairs. Instead, leadership in crisis management requires a methodical approach that is agile, current, and accurate. They cannot rely on their previous leadership abilities to navigate these unprecedented times; they require a new compass. This results in the need of highly trained coaches who specialize in crisis and recovery leadership.
When there is a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity, people look to their leaders for answers. Here are seven strategies that effective leaders employ in these situations:
1. Provide a Specific Direction
Even when visibility is low during a crisis, leaders owe their people a clear sense of direction. Their focus can be on the short term, which, when combined with regular updates, allows them to respond to constant and rapid change.
2. Concentrate on People
Leaders must consider the human factor more than they have in the past. They must lead people as individuals. Leaders must offer proactive support, encouragement, and engagement to their employees because they are worried and uncertain.
3. Discover a Coach
Leaders must rediscover their humanity and bring it to the workplace — for many, this is the first time. They must discover in themselves the “soft areas” that allow them to connect with their team members beyond the crisis. This magnitude of change is nearly impossible to achieve without assistance or direction, which is where coaching can help.
4. Be Open and Honest
Leaders can inspire trust in times of crisis by providing transparent and frequent information about what they know and don’t know. Employees will develop the trust that is currently lacking in the world if the right information is provided at the right time.
In such times, leaders can also inspire hope, but it must be open-ended and without a deadline. No one knew in the beginning how long the pandemic will last, so offering a timeline (“it will be over by the summer”) would have been a mistake. If that timeline is incorrect, it could harm morale and psychological resilience.
5. Foster self-leadership
Leaders must set an example by pushing themselves beyond their concerns and uncertainties. Leading others in a crisis is difficult and almost unethical without self-leadership.
Self-leadership in turbulent waters is a process that begins with leaders deciding to stand up for their principles or values. They go beyond their limitations and difficulties to convey those principles and values, and they chart a clear course and vision for themselves. Only then can they provide that direction to those they lead.
6. Concern for Their Colleagues
Leaders must assist their team members in overcoming their fears so that they can return to being successful employees. They must legitimize people’s concerns rather than dismiss them. Great leaders such as Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela are examples of this leadership trait.
7. Develop Your Leadership Skills
True leadership in crisis guides others from where they are to where they know they can go. Employees grow and develop with the right leaders, reaching new heights of achievement. Not everyone who is promoted to management is a true leader. Real leaders constantly learn and grow, and they recognize the greatness in themselves and others.
Going through a crisis is a rite of passage for any aspiring leader. After all, being a good manager is easy when everything is going well, but your ability as a leader is truly tested when there is a true crisis.
While leadership in crisis management is high on a manager’s priority list, it is also one of the most difficult areas to navigate. As a result, it’s not surprising that a company’s crisis preparation can range from $60,000 to $500,000. (depending on the industry and location). Unprepared companies in a crisis can spend millions of dollars on mitigation while losing hundreds of millions in reputation and shareholder value.
The real problem with crisis management is that it is so unpredictable. You never know when or how a crisis will occur. Think about the Covid-19 pandemic. We would have laughed if someone had told us in 2019 that the world would be in a two-year lockdown with a massive shift to remote work.
Meanwhile, according to a Spiceworks survey, while 95% of organizations have a crisis recovery plan in place, 23% never test the effectiveness of that plan. And, among those who do not test their plans, 61% blame a lack of time, while 53% blame insufficient resources.
As a result, it’s safe to say that most leaders are not only mentally unprepared to cope with a crisis, but they also don’t know how to manage their workforce in a high-risk situation.
How to Be an Effective Crisis Manager
A leader is expected to play various roles depending on the stage of a crisis. For example, in the early stages of a crisis, when its nature is ambiguous, you will be expected to be a problem solver and propose various solutions. Later on, when the facts and figures become clearer, you will be expected to shift gears and make difficult decisions.
The elephant in the room is how to be a better leader all through the leadership in the crisis management process. That is, how can you be a leader who efficiently assists your team in addressing a crisis without them eventually despising you? To put everything in perspective, here are a few pointers on how to be a good crisis leader:
1. Recognize the issue
Leaders may refuse to acknowledge that they are in a crisis, refuse to inform their people about the reality of the situation, make poor decisions, and thus become ineffective crisis leaders. Don’t use your usual strategy of sweeping the problem under the rug. Nobody likes being kept in the dark, and your employees are no exception.
Respect your employees and communicate the situation as it is transparently. However, you should knowbe aware that transparency does not imply negativity. Even if you have bad news to give, don’t get too caught up in it. Inspire your team to consider the big picture rather than what will happen in the short term. Discuss the next steps with your team, the risks involved with the action plan (if any), and what can be done right away to combat the issue.
2. Remove the red tape and minimize friction points
During a crisis, there is no time or space for lengthy deliberations. Limiting the number of friction points should be one of a leader’s top priorities during a crisis. A friction point can be anything that slows down decision-making, from an unnecessary hierarchy in the approval to a lack of emergency funds.
Besides encouraging self-leadership, leadership in crisis management can decrease bureaucracy by appointing a small group of team leaders to speed up decision-making. As a leader, you don’t have the luxury of second-guessing yourself, so for effectively managing a crisis, it all boils down to:
Making a no-nonsense priority list- You don’t want your employees squandering their time and effort on the wrong activities. Record your priorities early in the crisis, get your whole team on the same page, and leave some wiggle room for future changes to the plan.
Allow your front-line decision-makers complete autonomy- While there will almost certainly be mistakes made, this is an unavoidable part of the process.
Prioritize the decisions with the least impact first- To be honest, making the wrong decision, especially under duress, is all too common. That’s why it’s a good idea, to begin with, the decisions that won’t have a big impact and then move on to the ones that will. This ensures that your employees understand what is at peril while also having trust in themselves.
3. Don’t lose sight of your empathy along the way
Your employees may require you now more than ever. Taking care of your people is one of the most crucial things you can do during a crisis.
Not only does leadership in crisis management necessitate empathy for those affected, but it also necessitates the ability to pin down the source of problems by asking the right questions to the right person at the right time. Empathy is the equivalent of saying to your employees, “I care about your happiness and well-being,” but making sure they don’t interpret it as a sign of weakness on your part.
Employees are more committed to their employers when they believe they are more than just a cog in the machine. Empathy allows you to respond to your team’s needs with openness rather than distrust. It’s all about finding a happy medium between compassion and the real world.
The true challenge, however, is to be empathetic while still ensuring that team goals are met. Here are a few pointers to help you balance your empathetic and managerial sides:
Create a strong recognition culture- Purposeful recognition, no matter how small, can have a huge impact on the morale of your employees. Even the simple act of saying a sincere “thank you” can give your employees the boost they need, especially during times of crisis.
Hold informal check-ins once a week- Every week, set aside at least five minutes for one-on-one time with your employees. Make these meetings more unique by inviting employees to share their highs and lows from the previous week. Make certain that these conversations cover both the personal and professional elements of your employees’ lives so that you have a complete view of their mental health.
Make sure you have a mental health plan in place to assist employees who may need assistance.
Begin advocating for attainable goals and productivity standards- Dealing with a crisis not only jeopardizes your well-being but also that of your employees. In such circumstances, it is common to experience burnout, stress, and anxiety. It is your responsibility as a leader to foster a positive and uplifting environment in which employees believe they do not need to burn out to accomplish something. You can begin by using the SMART goals framework to help your team members understand what goals are achievable.
4. Develop a strong and adaptable communication strategy
A full-fledged crisis response will necessitate significant involvement and assistance from multiple internal organizational teams. As a result, whatever plan you ultimately implement will almost certainly be thorough, multilayered, and integrated throughout the organization.
However, for such a thorough plan to be successful, your internal teams must be conscious of what, when, and how their respective parts are expected to be carried out. Only if you have a solid communication plan in place to cope with such high-risk situations will you be able to do so.
This is where having an adaptive communication toolbox can assist leaders in cutting through the noise and assisting the team in collaborating effectively throughout all stages of the crisis. It also helps to have prior communication training for you and your team, in addition to having a clear communication strategy. While this may seem obvious, anyone who has been through an organizational crisis understands how different communication in a crisis is from communication during a project launch.
The need for crisis management in an organization arises from the imperative to effectively respond to unexpected disruptions and challenges. It provides a structured approach to handle crises, protect stakeholders, maintain business continuity, and safeguard the organization’s reputation. Crisis management helps mitigate the impact of unforeseen events, ensuring a coordinated and strategic response to navigate through uncertainties and recover swiftly.
Q2. What is the difference between crisis management and crisis leadership?
Crisis management encompasses the entire process of preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a crisis. It involves strategic planning and coordination. On the other hand, crisis leadership specifically focuses on the actions and decisions of leaders during a crisis, playing a crucial role within the broader scope of crisis management.
Q3. What are the most critical crisis-management abilities?
The most critical crisis-management abilities include effective communication, quick decision-making, strategic planning, adaptability, and the ability to coordinate and lead teams under pressure. These skills are essential for successfully navigating and mitigating the impact of unexpected challenges and disruptions.
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Gabby Davis is the Lead Trainer for the US Division of the Customer Experience Team. She develops and implements processes and collaterals related to the client onboarding experience and guides clients across all tiers through the initial implementation of Engagedly as well as Mentoring Complete. She is passionate about delivering stellar client experiences and ensuring high adoption rates of the Engagedly product through engaging and impactful training and onboarding.