HR Management & Compliance

Crisis Planning: When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies

Planning for the problems facing your business is not just about what might happen, but when it will happen, and what you will do about it before, during, and after these problems appear. This statement will serve you best if it gets you to change the way you look at the world and change the way you look at your organization. It offers you a challenge: There are more crisis-driven problems facing your business today, than ever before.

Crisis

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Some of these problems will never reach the light of the outside world and can be handled swiftly and successfully in-house with little fanfare. Others, however, by their very nature and scope, burst past the doors of the company lobby and head for the nearest print, TV, or social media reporter or plaintiffs’ attorney. Unfortunately, these kinds of incidents go through a rapid metamorphosis that changes them from minor problems to serious events. They also change from something that happens to something that must be managed.

There are forces, human or otherwise, lurking inside and outside your walls that want to disrupt your business. The question of our new world is no longer if, but when. The point is not to make you hide in your office with the shades drawn and the doors locked. The goal is to raise your awareness, empower you to act when conflict arrives at your doorstep, and to know how to take small problems and wrestle them to the floor before they become big ones.

These problems include what could safely be called the “unspeakable acts of business.” Some of these events involve product, image, reputation, and employee problems most of us would much rather avoid, thank you very much. While it’s always easiest to say, “I’ll let someone else handle that one,” or “I’ll wait for that one to solve itself,” some unspeakable acts of business must be managed, dealt with individually or by a committee or group, and spoken about directly and frankly.

Few of us enjoy conflict and/or problems that either spring from controversy or create discord as they grow. Being an effective leader today calls for you to seek out conflict in its many forms and address it, rather than avoid it.

Dr. Steve Albrecht will be giving a webinar titled “Crisis Management and Communication: Managing the Message on Social Media to Avoid Backlash and Boycotts” on Tuesday, September 7th, 2021 at 2:00 PM Eastern. Learn more here.

Examples

  • The disgruntled employee who threatens or attacks his co-workers probably won’t leave on his own.
  • The employee who systematically steals from you probably won’t reform herself without intervention.
  • The unethical employee who shorts clients from their money or products (and pockets the difference) or sells your merchandise to his pals at cut-rate prices probably won’t see the light and mend his ways today.
  • The employee with a significant substance abuse problem probably won’t suddenly decide to get sober tomorrow without intervention.
  • The protesters, boycotters, or social justice activists outside your building or worse, in your lobby, probably won’t go away if you ask them politely.
  • The news or TV reporters fishing for a story about the safety, efficacy, or hazards of your products or services probably won’t agree not to write detrimental things about your company.
  • The plaintiff attorney representing one client or 1,000 probably won’t agree to dismiss his or her claim against your firm, even if all the evidence points in your favor.

The publics (a real plurality), those people that make up your customers, clients, consumers, business partners, vendors, observers, or critics, probably won’t believe you if, when corporate problems come to light, you say, “No comment,” “It wasn’t our fault,” or “Someone else is to blame.”

Taking Steps Today to Avoid Disaster Tomorrow

If you are engaged in commerce today, in the business of selling your products or services to clients or customers in the marketplace, you are always at risk of some episode or event that will put your organization into a crisis mode.

You can successfully defend your company today. Look at your vulnerabilities. Do you have product, service, image, customer, employee, or public relations problems that are threatening to become significant? Are you in jeopardy of being sued? If so, what can you change, today, to make that less likely? Is the psychological or physical safety of your employees a growing issue?

All of the above events, incidents, and behaviors will definitely require intervention on your part. True corporate self-defense starts with your ability to recognize these kinds of problems, understand the nature of the conflicts surrounding them, and take a proactive rather than reactive stance.

Dr. Steve Albrecht, SHRM PHR, ASIS CPP, ATAP CTM, is a consultant, trainer, author, and keynote speaker. Albrecht has trained thousands of employees, live and online, in leadership, management, and supervisory topics, ranging from harassment prevention and substance abuse awareness to performance evaluations and team conflict resolutions.

Albrecht holds a doctorate in Business Administration, an MA in Security Management, a BS in Psychology, and a BA in English. He is board certified in HR, security, employee coaching, and threat assessment.

Albrecht is the author of: Crisis Management for Corporate Self-Defense; Fear and Violence on the Job; and Ticking Bombs: Defusing Violence in the Workplace. In addition, he has written 24 books on business, service, leadership, security, and criminal justice topics.