10 Ways to Handle a Crisis

The first goal is prevention, but if that doesn't work, here's an action plan for workplace crises.

Michael Wade

At some point, you may have to deal with a workplace crisis. Here are some actions your team should consider:

1. Prevent it. This is a pre-crisis step, of course, and it requires the ability to visualize how things could go wrong. Although seemingly a basic skill, those who fall in love with a project or plan may have difficulty spotting the vulnerable areas.

2. Stabilize the situation. The crisis has arrived. Now you need to assert control, isolate the crisis, and minimize the damage.

3. Notify your boss. Pronto. The bad news will not improve with age.

4. Control your worries. You want to react, but not overreact. Don’t let your imagination carry you into unrealistic fears.

5. Consult and coordinate. Bring in help, in terms of both resources and perspective. Make sure that those who need to know are consulted.

6. Don’t act in haste. “Haste” is relative to the severity and potential severity of the threat. To the greatest degree possible, you don’t want the speed of your response to detract from its effectiveness.

7. Establish a core team to handle the matter. You don’t want a crisis to consume the attention and energy of the entire organization.

8. Have a central contact person or group for information. This can reduce rumors while producing a coherent view of what is transpiring.

9. Pay attention to fatigue. If you keep the same team in place for a long period, its members will become less effective. Have a relief team.

10. Pay attention to your core values. Stress may lead you astray. Keep your values in mind and beware of any short-term wins that may cause long-term anguish.

Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.


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