Crisis management is definitely a learned skill. Whether it’s an emergency in your industry, a PR fumble in your own company, or even an international pandemic, learning to deal with stressful situations with grace and decisiveness is an important task for any entrepreneur. By looking at some of the common pitfalls of leadership under stress, we can glean a lot of important information about how to avoid poor crisis management. Below are a few things you should NOT do when wading through a difficult situation in your business.
Avoid Taking Responsibility
While at times it can be tempting to try to pass the buck, making excuses for a crisis and failing to own up to your business’s portion of the problem is a huge no-no. According to The Hartford, in the long term, your employees, peers, and customers will have more respect for you and your company if you take responsibility for your mistakes and immediately take steps to rectify with situation.
Yell at Your Employees
Even if one of your employees is responsible for creating the crisis, practicing patience and understanding to the best of your ability is far preferable to an angry disciplinary outburst. Having a calm conversation about the problem will not only help you to diffuse the situation internally but can also help you learn important information about the origin of the mistake that might help you better correct it publicly.
Forget Your Disaster Recovery Plan
Many of the tools you have put into place in your disaster recovery plan may be applicable to dealing with your current crisis. Avoid an impulsive panic response and go back to the procedures you set up to deal with these kinds of stressful situations.
Remain Silent for Too Long
Conversely, you also don’t want to take too long to publicly respond to the situation at hand. This can be seen as cowardly at best, and like you are downplaying the situation and not taking it seriously at worst. Communicate openly with your customers about how you are going about finding a solution to the crisis. Transparency creates respect!
Get Stuck in Analysis Paralysis
As a business owner, your first response to the problem will likely be one of fear, panic, and possibly anger. While you may want to throw all of your energy at trying to find out where the issue originated (and whose fault it may be,) doing so is actually just wasting valuable time. While it’s important to understand what went wrong in order to take responsibility and communicate with your community, you don’t want to get so mired in the “how” that you forget to move forward.
Instead, you should seek a solution to the problem. There will be time after you have dealt with the issue to address the cause at length and ensure that the behavior that caused the matter will be avoided in the future. As a leader, it is your job to help facilitate a satisfactory outcome first and foremost. By taking responsibility, practicing transparency, and taking swift action to resolve the crisis, you put your company on the best track to recovery and eventually business as usual.