“Don’t let your organisations response to COVID-19 be the yardstick by which you measure your crisis competence.”
Absolutely everyone is in crisis during COVID-19; no-one has escaped. However, it’s not necessarily a good indicator of what a crisis is like in normal times. Nothing compares to the stress when the spotlight falls exclusively on you. Exposure of being singled out for attention, pre and post-pandemic is almost infinitely more taxing than it is now.
For some, the current pandemic has provided unintentional camouflage for poor, or non-existent, crisis management. Without the international distraction, this approach to the Coronavirus Crisis would be exposed and magnified as a dereliction of duty. Due to the global scale of the crisis, many organisations have got away with scant preparation, poor decisions and insensitive communications.
Being one of many in this unprecedented situation, organisations have had the unusual luck of largely escaping public scrutiny. Seemingly saving themselves from irreparable reputational damage. However, if there’s one thing to learn from this hard and fast lesson in crisis management, it’s the importance of bespoke crisis training for your organisation.
When you find yourself dealing with a crisis in the future, and the spotlight is beating down on you, will you be ready? Have you and your team learnt from how your organisation has handled the impact of the Coronavirus? As we continue to see the easing of restrictions across the world, now is the time to make sure your corporate resilience is professional and robust. No one can expect to perform well when they are thrust into a crisis ill-prepared.
Addressing your approach to the current COVID-19 crisis, as well as future ones needn’t wait. With our extensive experience in crises at Hard Rain, there are four areas we would advise you to consider immediately:
1. Have you built and empowered an independent team to be responsible for crisis-related decisions?
Crisis teams will only be effective if they are trained correctly, and tested robustly. We established a crisis team for a client in late 2019 that made this statement: “Thank goodness for the crisis training you gave us last year, the team has been outstanding, many staff have expressed how pleased they are with the communication and direction during this time – a big thank you!” Even after only a short period, they have seen the benefits of having a trained crisis management team.
2. How are you communicating to your stakeholders?
Sensitively communicating during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when its bad news that you need to convey isn’t an easy task. Using specially trained communications experts to manage your comms or providing specialist training to your Comms team is absolutely imperative.
3. Are you successfully managing the COVID-19 crisis?
Protocols, policies and issues are constantly changing throughout COVID-19. Having a handle on how to navigate and manage a crisis can make all the difference in determining the future of your organisation.
4. How are you managing change in your business?
We’ve already seen how many changes are required to be implemented for organisations coming out of lockdown. There will be both ‘forced’, from inevitable consequences, such as Government guidance, and ‘elected’ changes. Changes that come from ideas to re-engineer the organisation. Are your change management plans rigorous enough to cope with the sheer extent of change that is to be expected?
Experience of facilitating and communicating in crisis situations, from implementing changes to communicating sensitive information, is a must for all businesses. Whether that’s orchestrated in-house, or by utilising a third-party specialist.
If there is one piece of advice we can leave you with, whether it’s for dealing with impact of COVID-19 or other situations in the future, it’s that: