Prepare for Potential Business Crises

“Fortune favours the prepared” – Louis Pasteur

Organisations are subject to a wide range of potential crises, such as natural or environmental disasters, wars, IT hacking breaches, pandemics, supply chain disruptions, government sanctions, safety or Workcover incidents, and economic down turns – to name but a few. Sadly, crises can easily become reality and can materially impact the organisation. 

To reduce the impact of crises, leaders must try to anticipate the risk and nature of potential crises that could materially impact their organisation, and for these critical risks, take mitigating action (if possible) and plan and organise for these anticipated potential events. Leaders must plan their organisation’s responses and train the relevant people (including themselves) in the appropriate responses. They must also ensure that sufficient resources will be available at the right time to make the appropriate responses. 

Training will need to include practice for the scenarios that are envisaged, so that the organisation and its people know how to respond. This crisis practice and training will help reduce the impact of the events and assist in easier recovery compared to a lack of preparation. 

Business mentoring and coaching can help business leaders identify a potential crisis, ascertain who or what teams in the organisation are best equipped to handle the situation, and address training and rehearsing to deal with it.

By implementing an effective crisis response plan, you can minimise the impact on business continuity, reputation and profitability.

H2: A Crisis Response Plan

A business mentor or business coach will suggest that you prepare for various scenarios and have a well-structured crisis response plan, allowing your business to navigate crises more effectively and protect its long-term success capability.

An effective crisis response plan for a business is essential for mitigating risks, ensuring the safety of employees and protecting the company’s reputation. Here are some of the key components of such a plan:

  • Risk Assessment – Identify potential crises that your business might face, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, financial crises or public relations issues. Understand the specific risks associated with your industry and location.
  • Crisis Team – Establish a dedicated crisis management team with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. This team should include senior executives, communication experts, legal advisors and relevant department heads.
  • Communication Plan – Develop a comprehensive communication plan that addresses both internal and external stakeholders. Ensure that messages are consistent, accurate and timely. Designate a spokesperson for media and public communications.
  • Emergency Response – Implement safety protocols and procedures for employee wellbeing during crises. Evacuation plans, first-aid training and emergency contacts should be readily available.
  • Business Continuity – Develop strategies for maintaining critical business operations during and after a crisis. Backup systems, remote work capabilities and alternative suppliers should be in place.
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance – Ensure your crisis response is in line with legal and regulatory requirements. Consult with legal experts to avoid potential liabilities.
  • Reputation Management – Monitor social media and news outlets for the impact of the crisis on your company’s reputation. Be prepared to respond to rumours or false information promptly.
  • Training and Drills – Regularly train employees on crisis response procedures and conduct drills to test the effectiveness of your plan.
  • Resource Allocation – Identify the resources, both financial and human, required to implement your crisis response plan effectively. Ensure you have access to these resources when needed.
  • Document Everything – Maintain thorough records of the crisis, response actions and communications. This documentation is critical for post-crisis analysis and potential legal requirements.
  • Learn from Every Crisis – After a crisis, conduct a thorough post-incident analysis to identify what worked well and what needs improvement. Use this information to update and enhance your crisis response plan.
  • Crisis Simulations – Periodically simulate different crisis scenarios to assess the readiness and effectiveness of your response team and plan.
  • Third-Party Partnerships – Establish relationships with external organisations that can provide support during a crisis, such as public relations firms, cybersecurity experts and crisis management consultants.
  • Regulatory and Compliance Frameworks – Be aware of industry-specific regulations and compliance frameworks related to crisis management and ensure your plan adheres to them.
  • Ongoing Review and Update – Regularly review and update your crisis response plan to adapt to changing circumstances, emerging threats and lessons learned from past incidents.

You must update your crisis response plan when things change. Review the plan on a regular timetabled basis, at least once a year or as things change materially. Your crisis response plan is dynamic and should evolve as your business risks change. The training and drills may also lead to updates to the plan, training and resources requirements, so make sure to conduct a review after implementation.

H2: Training & Managing Cognitive Loads to Increase Performance During Crises

The whole team will perform better under pressure if they have been trained in and practiced the skills involved in managing the situation. A good example of this is a hospital emergency department whereby resuscitation teams routinely practice CPR scenarios to limit errors and deliver timely and appropriate care.

In crises, the cognitive load theory becomes critical in how people react. From cognitive load theory, we know that the human brain can only process small amounts of new information at once, but can process large amounts of previously stored memory information. Once information is stored in long-term memory, people who are trained in advance for potential crises can access the important information needed to act decisively and effectively to handle a particular crisis.

Cognitive load theory is primarily a framework for instructional design, but its principles can be applied to the management of cognitive load during crises. Clear communication, prioritisation of information and minimising unnecessary cognitive demand are crucial for effective emergency responses, particularly when individuals are under stress and facing high-pressure situations.

H2: Discuss Your Crisis Response Plan with a Business Mentor

With the help of a business mentoring professional, you can consider your crises response plan and develop an updated crisis response plan, discussing such items as:

  • Overall crisis response plan
  • Good leadership during a crisis
  • How to maintain effective supervision of the crisis process
  • Identifying causes of the problems and addressing those causes quickly and decisively in an agreed communication plan

Business mentors and coaches can also help you consider some specifics, such as:

  • Data backup and recovery
  • Insurance review – do these adequately cover the material risks?
  • Emergency supplies, including commercial supplies of product or input, alternative suppliers, stocks, and essentials for people such as medical, food, water, shelter, safety, etc.
  • Support for staff, including safety and psychological support from colleagues and leadership
  • Reviewing the crisis communication plan