No organization is perfect; every one of them is prone to crisis. While you may be prepared to deal with a lot of them, there may be some that may strike without you knowing. In 2018, there were three shootings at workplaces in the U.S. in a single day. Such events cannot be predicted and can throw all your employees into a frenzy.
You may not be prepared to deal with such events. However, you can, of course, be prepared about how you can communicate the information to both internal and external stakeholders. Your team should be prepared to handle the communications before, after, and even during the crisis.
That said, here are a few tips that you can keep in mind when training your team for crisis communications in the workplace.
1. Be Quick To Respond
Crisis can strike at any moment and comes without warnings. You need to be ready for such emergencies and respond to them immediately. Do keep in mind that responding will help you avoid an even bigger mishap as the right information would have been communicated to the entire staff in a short while. Remember, quick and efficient communication is the key to avert major crisis at your workplace.
2. Create a Crisis Communications Team
It is important to have a crisis communications team in place to deal with such situations. It should ideally consist of senior-level executives from departments like HR, IT, or Operations. A suitable person should be selected as the head of this team too.
The team should have a well-defined hierarchy with each divisional head managing his or her own division. In some cases, you may even need people who have knowledge about a particular crisis.
Apart from this team, all the employees of your organization should be prepared for the crisis ahead of time.
3. Train the Crisis Communication Team
It is important for all the employees to be aware of the organization’s policies and procedures during the crisis to be able to communicate effectively. However, the crisis communications team needs to be specially trained on how to respond to it.
A great way of doing this is by looking at case studies of other organizations and how they dealt with their issues. You can ask your team to brainstorm and come up with ideas on what they would do if they were placed in a similar situation.
Apart from training the team, you also need to put an effort to find spokesperson/s for the organization. They should be the only authorized people who can speak about the crisis with the external stakeholders or the press if required. You should identify one for every channel of communication. For this, you need to match their skills with the right channel. Accordingly, they should be trained to communicate all the information effectively to ensure that nobody misinterprets what they communicate.
4. Design a Crisis Communication Plan
You need to assess all the channels you’re using for communications and see how you can leverage them for crisis communications. They could be meetings, emails, or even intranet. However, the most effective way of crisis communication is through a crisis communications system such as RedFlag.
This is the easiest method of keeping people informed during a crisis. The best part about these systems is that you can just write once and post the notification to multiple channels. These include emails, SMS, social media, voice calls, and internet posts.
Efficient communication using a mass notification system can help you save time and respond quickly to the impending crisis. It can help you reach out to a major chunk of your staff as the message would be broadcasted across all the communication channels.
An effective solution even allows two-way communication so you can communicate with employees and get them to safety in case of an emergency.
5. Be Honest
Trust is the key when you’re dealing with your employees and crisis is the time when you need to win their trust even more. You must communicate everything to them and be completely transparent. Even in the case where you are still dealing with the issue at hand and don’t have a concrete answer, you should communicate the situation to them. This not only applies to the employees but even to the external stakeholders.
It may be a tough task for the spokesperson to communicate with the external stakeholders or the press. However, they should take the help of the legal counsel and prepare their statements. Whatever is communicated by them should be followed through as well in the future. You must ensure that the organization’s integrity is preserved by being honest.
6. Assess and Improve
Once the crisis is dealt with, you need to sit back and analyze your response to it. You need to question the steps that the team took and look at their outcomes. Some questions you can ask yourself are:
- Did your plan work effectively?
- Did the communications team respond quickly?
- Was the crisis communicated well throughout the organization?
You should assess what worked for you and what didn’t. Based on that, you can brainstorm and come up with more solutions which can improve your response and plan of action the next time.
You must communicate these changes with all your employees. This brings you back to the first step of preparing your employees. This way, with each instance of a crisis, you’ll be better prepared to deal with it the next time it strikes.
Crisis can strike an organization without any warnings. This is why it is necessary to be prepared to deal with it even before it strikes. Have a crisis communications team in place, complete with spokespersons and legal counsels. A plan of action should be ready and a crisis communication system can come in handy too. Also, you must make sure that you are transparent and honest throughout with your employees. Lastly, assess how you reacted to the crisis and improve.
What other tips do you have for crisis communications? Let us know in the comments.