Sunday, January 06, 2008

Managing in a crisis

I received a postive comment today from a posting I made in August 2007 on this subject so I have decided to re-post something similar.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned through managing in crisis situations.

*Always have a plan B even if you are confident plan A is going to work
*Ask the employees most directly affected what they think
*Employees are usually 'ahead' of the Board
*Don’t listen to gossip – talk to people direct
*Be aware there are political games going on at every level
*Try to ensure there are no ‘camps’ even though there will be
*Be open and up front about bad news
*Tell people quickly and tell everyone affected at the same time
*Walk away for a few hours and leave it – you need refreshing
*Don’t make assumptions and if you do … change them every hour
*Be ready to be surprised with reactions
*Admit you were wrong when you make a mistake – as you inevitably will
*Just when you thought things were getting better they get worse and you have to keep going
*Never give up
*Have an understanding wife/husband/partner/family
*Remember you have a life too.


You will make mistakes along the way and if you think you have finally ‘cracked it’ you will be wrong. If you think you can write a policy to deal with this sort of thing and then simply pull it out of a filing cabinet and implement it in a cold clinical way then forget it – the world just doesn't operate that way. We are talking about people.

Wake up and smell the coffee if you think this practical leadership stuff can be taught in a business school classroom.


Kostas Panagias said...

I think the best practise when in a crisis is to immediately admit your mistake and try to fix it. If you try to hide your fault and cover your traces someday you will definitely get exposed and generate a lot of negative publicity. History of businesses has proved that a million times (like in corporate scandals e.g. Enron). If you admit your fault and try to fix your mistakes and deal with the crises face to face people will recognize it and support you (take responsibility and try to fix the problem, compensate for losses and make amends) like Perrier Contamination in 1990 (immediate product recall, advertising & marketing campaigns to re-positioning the product after the crisis).

All companies at one time have to deal with crisis and I think there is not any exception so preparation (the plan B you stated) is the key.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Kostas

Thanks for that – How I wish more business people at the top - and politicians for that matter - would just admit when they make mistakes and accept full responsibility. So many times we see them squirm, blame others and avoid accepting their overall role in failure. I am sure more respect would be given to these folks if they just admitted their mistakes.