Companies face minor emergencies everyday. A key employee calls out sick, an angry customer lashes out — these are things you’re pretty well prepared for. But, what if the truly unexpected happens? How do you handle a major crisis that threatens your company’s long-term reputation?
During a crisis, senior leadership has to step up. You need to be able to explain what happened, why, and what you’re doing to keep it from happening again. This has to be communicated clearly to your employees, the media, and other members of the public.
This takes a lot of time, attention, and focus — which can take quite a toll if you let it. If you find yourself leading your organization through a crisis, here are three rules you need to follow to manage stress:
Prioritize and delegate. One of the marks of an excellent leader is the ability to see the bigger picture, and delegate roles and responsibilities to a team. You can’t handle a major company crisis alone. You need to have leaders from the various departments inside your business to help you analyze the issue from all angles, and develop the best possible plan. You also need team members to help you accurately assess the damage to your company — whether physical, financial, or reputational.
Surround yourself with supportive people. In any crisis, you need a support system — both in the office and at home. Strong company leaders can provide expertise that you might not have. For example, if your company is facing a cybersecurity threat, you’d consult closely with your Chief Information Security Officer to make sure you have a good handle on the issue and the best way to mitigate you may need to consult with the head of IT to better understand the scope of the issues and ways to prevent them from recurring. You may just need a “right hand man” to support and help you tackle the larger tasks and ask for advice. When you surround yourself with supporters, it will be easier to face the crisis with a proactive approach.
Don’t listen to outside criticism. When your company is in the media hot seat, you will likely be bombarded everyday with professional attacks, threats, or general negative opinions from outside commentators. While you must acknowledge these opinions, you shouldn’t let them into your personal life. Unplug from the press, and keep your focus on solving the issues rather than brooding over them.
Most importantly, remember to leave your work stress at the office, rather than bringing ot home with you. Leadership roles come with great responsibilities, but you also have many other aspects of life that shouldn’t be upset by na company crisis.
For more information and resources on crisis management, visit our Resource Center.