Circumstances in our personal or professional life can change radically in a short term quarter, a single month, or even in one day. Normally, we can assess the situation and find an appropriate solution. However, events in our lives can be significantly serious enough to constitute a crisis. What is the definition of a crisis? A crisis is any event that is, or expected to lead to, an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, community, industry, corporation, or a whole nation. Crisis incidents can include the diagnosis of a life threatening illness, surviving a natural disaster such as, Hurricane Katrina, handling a company’s product malfunction publicly, or managing a company’s dilemma that has occurred without warning; and, is beyond the organization’s control. Business leaders will tell you that they come up against roadblocks, but try to respond summarily and decisively under the pressure of uncommon conditions. What do you do when you find yourself in a crisis situation? Follow these guidelines to help you go forward through the immediacy of a company crisis:
• Where you can, change your environment. It is not unusual at the scene of the crisis that there will be panic or anxiety; and often, a tremendous amount of noise. Putting some space between you and the site of the crisis will restore calm to your thinking practices.
• Collect real data to assess the damage to the company or possible harmful media coverage. As a leader, others will look to you to communicate real facts. Clarify what you do know and state what information is not yet known. Describe what the company will be doing to uncover the missing information. Use language that is direct; and, can be understood by all personnel. If the company has a public relations spokesperson, use that resource to address the news groups and deliver a consistent message at each briefing.
• Once relevant information is in hand, focus on the first actions. Assemble other company leaders into a ‘strike force’. Identify the tasks to be performed immediately, prioritize the remaining responsibilities, and delegate ownership of each task to the most competent individual. Also, determine a later check-in meeting to determine progress and further strategy plans.
• If there are personal injuries to any of the employees, ensure relatives or guardians are contacted prior to any public announcements. Subsequently, you can use any systems records, evaluation reports, or environmental findings to update all company branches, investors, trade unions, and the press.
• Demonstrate the company’s humanity where public harm is found or perceived. The company can provide aid in several ways such as, creating a help line with volunteer counselors, establishing a hardship fund for emergency expenses, or designating a facility for temporary housing and a haven for community safety.
• When necessary, use the advice of the company’s legal counselors. When the immediacy of the crisis is over, you can include their advice in future briefings.
• If the crisis was not a natural disaster, review the circumstances of how this crisis occurred. Are there industry trends, national legislation, faulty product designs, or global financial developments that had a direct cause to this crisis? Gather other leaders in the company and develop plans of how the business could emerge from this crisis even stronger than before.

Going Forward Through a Crisis