Leading through a crisis: Do you have a plan?

COVID-19 may have seemed like a term found in business newspapers announcing a company merger. Coronavirus was jokingly referred to as a beer-related illness.

An event like a worldwide pandemic always seems far-fetched until it happens.

As the entire world faces unprecedented movement restrictions and borders on a global economic depression, the questions for most businesses and organization are, “What are we going to do? How are we going to survive?”

A crisis management plan is a tool your business or organization should have in place to assist with leadership during times of extreme upheaval for you, your team and your organization.

Research shows once a crisis has befallen you, it can be difficult to think clearly and react in a timely and effective manner.

If COVID-19 has placed your organization in crisis, there are three things you should do immediately:

  1. Provide reassurance. This doesn’t mean provide false hope or make lavish promises, but it does mean you should let stakeholders (internal staff and external audiences) know you are working to address their concerns and fears. Information could be as simple as a reminder that all of you are in this together, or it could relay steps the company is taking to maintain a clean and safe environment for employees and/or customers.
  2. Protect your credibility. Especially in a crisis, leaders have two key assets: credibility and information. Do not let rumor and speculation fester, either within your organization or in the media. Be transparent when you can. Do not lie. If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know. You will find people trust you more when you admit to not having all the answers all of the time. Use information as a tool, not a weapon. If you can only release a few details at a time, do so. If you promise to update your stakeholders, do so, even if you are unable to provide a lot new information. Be truthful. Be timely.
  3. Plan now. Though the COVID crisis is in full swing, don’t expect it to end as quickly as it began. Health officials are pushing for at least another 60 days of social distancing measures. What do those 60 to 90 days look like for your team? What about the remainder of 2020? Don’t wait until there are more questions. Be proactive.

Photo credit:

unsplash-logoBrian McGowan