Eric Jacobson

Do You Have A Crisis Management Program?

In General Leadership Skills, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training on February 4, 2010 at 7:33 pm

It’s too early to make a final judgment about Toyota’s handling of its current automobile recall, but it’s not too early for all business leaders to check to be sure they have a crisis management program in place.

Sadly, most businesses don’t have a plan.  Or, don’t have a plan that is up-to-date, comprehensive and/or flexible.

With a crisis management program you:

  • Forecast potential and most likely/probable crises
  • Plan in advance for how to deal with them
  • Document your sequential, step-by-step action plan, including having a time line
  • Share your written plan with all the appropriate players on your team

A crisis can be any event or series of events that threatens a severe negative impact to your business, your stakeholders and/or the general public.  A crisis can threaten your financial results, brand and reputation, and your relations with employees, customers and vendors.  Crises can include a product defect, interruption of service, death of a key employee or company officer, workplace violence and natural disasters. 

The first step in developing your plan is to gather your team and identify your likely crisis situations that could impact your business.  Keep in mind that research shows that a company can expect a crisis every four to five years.  So, don’t assume it won’t happen to your business or organization.

As you establish your action plan, be sure to think about:

  • Who will be on your crisis management team?
  • Who will do what?
  • When will they do it?
  • Do you have a calling tree with current cell phone numbers?
  • How will you integrate into your plan your web site, Social Media, Twitter and customer care phone lines?
  • How (and who) will communicate with the media and your customers, employees, volunteers, donors and sponsors? And, how often? 

As you set out to tackle your crisis management program, take a look at the recall section of Toyota’s web site and decide what is strong about their approach, what you think is weak, and what you would have done differently.

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