Take a reasonable amount of time to accurately assess the situation. Fight every instinct to react or overreact. First, take a step back; take a few deep breaths; whatever it takes to restore your calm so you can think clearly. Then get all the facts, get objective guidance, and develop a clear picture of the situation.
Engage all key stakeholders. Trust the insiders you should trust. Involve key insiders who either have a stake, have knowledge that will help in analysis or planning, or will be significantly impacted. That will make decision-making and internal communications far more effective. Moreover, those with a vested interest won’t feel like they were kept out of the loop.
Plan. Once you have all the data and a team of key stakeholders, develop best, typical, and worst case scenarios and plans based on key variables and assumptions. You know, like if x happens, then you do y. Planning enables you to act quickly, confidently, and effectively when the time comes to act.
Act. Be proactive, not reactive–obvious in theory but difficult in practice. That’s because the line between proactive and reactive isn’t always clear. If you follow the above steps, however, you should be able to tell the difference. Objective assessment and planning leads to calm and confidence. You’ll know when you’re ready to act. Then it’s all about execution.
Communicate. Communicate transparently and honestly, or at least appear to. I know that sounds squirrelly, but it’s absolutely critical that you appear honest and transparent. Perception is everything, and you need to consider and respect your audience to know how best to tell them what they need to know, when they need to know it. Bottom line In a crisis, your instincts may be to react, keep things close to your vest, or even do nothing. You need to fight those instincts. Instead, take a deep breath, get the right people involved, plan, then act decisively and communicate openly. There’s obviously a significant degree of subjectivity to all this. But when it comes to crisis management, effectiveness comes with experience.
Don’t forget that there’s an emotional component to how you behave in a crisis. It’s that whole reaction to fear and anxiety thing. After all, we’re all human. And companies are made up of humans. What you’re made of, what type of person you are, impacts how you manage a crisis. The reverse is also true: how you behave in a crisis defines what type of person you are. And that’s what people will remember most about you