Crises: Is your organisation’s leadership looking the other way?
In one of my previous articles tackling leadership and crisis management, I wrote about why organisational leadership perceive crises as a catalyst for problems and not as an opportunity for learning and improving organisational operations. Since then, I have had a number of discussions on the topic, and I decided to share more thoughts in this short write-up.
The rarity of crisis may sway organisational leadership to believe that their organisation is less prone to a crisis event until they are facing one. Some organisations do not bother having crisis management plans in place, and look at unfolding crises as just some operational issues until the immediate damage begins to show. The hitch is, once a crisis occurs, an organisation falls under close media, public and government scrutiny. As such, crises run the risk of escalating in intensity and interfere with normal business operations.
Where an organisation does not have a crisis plan to monitor issues and engage a crisis as it unfolds, it engages knee jerk responses which may be uncoordinated to yield the much needed relief from a crisis. Because crises disturb an organisation’s stability by creating potential for loss of business, reputation and endangering business continuity, among others, it is a grave mistake for leadership to consider crisis as just ‘one of those operational issues’ and handle them with that flicker.
The tide is fast changing and the environment is no longer the same. Amongst others, new technologies and the increasing consumerism that influences change in public policies for more consumer protection, allows for issues to quickly escalate into crises, making crises inevitable. Such developments continue to jolt organisational leadership into realising the detriment of burying their heads in the sand. Modern organisational leadership no longer has that privilege. Crises can, within a very short space of time, cost organisations millions of dollars in damaged reputation, lost market share, and at times in litigations.
Leaders in an organisation should take the drive to institute crisis management measures including instituting a crisis team with a plan to track issues for potential crises and engage one when it occurs. At times running a crisis simulation program across all functions of the organisation strengthens preparedness. Where an organisation lacks the capacity, it is advisable to engage experts (independent or otherwise) to work with the organisation towards achieving a strategically fitting crisis management plan for your organisation.
As one of my many acquaintances in management indicated, ‘crises offer many opportunities for reviewing processes, systems and stakeholder relationships, among some facets. The old adage that "silence is golden" is now under great threat (when it comes to crises)'. Organisational leadership need to factor in organisational crisis management when thinking strategic business plans, and take notice of the impact that crises can have on their organisation's business success and continuity.