I don’t know about you, but in my business career I have been in the middle of several crisis situations.
I can look at that fact two ways, either I have the worst luck or I have been fortunate enough to learn to navigate my way through many crisis situations. Your first instinct, or at least mine was to swear, yell, panic or go have a few drinks. However, while all of the above actions made me feel better, it only lasted a short time before reality set in.
The first thing that you need to do is, analyze the situation. After you have gone through this process, you can begin to put together a plan to manage the situation in the most efficient and sound manner possible.
After you have formulated your plan, you need to gather the troops and explain what has occurred or will be occurring. Be honest and upfront, as this will enable everyone to get on the same page and understand what is going to happen and how you will handle the situation.
If the news media becomes involved, remember who is buying and owns the ink. You cannot win a battle with the news media. However, you can conduct yourself in a professional and businesslike manner. This will win the respect of all involved in the situation, and remember, you have a reputation to uphold.
Think before you speak with the media and don’t answer any questions that you do not have the appropriate response for. I can speak from experience, what you say to the news media isn’t necessarily what will be printed.
Anyway, back to the internal management of your crisis. If you are having cash flow problems, trouble with your lender, or vendors, you must face the situation head on. It will not do any good to play the blame game, because at this point, it really doesn’t matter.
Take or return all calls and be honest with all parties involved. It will go a long way toward building an understanding of your situation, and in many cases, support for your current situation. Take time to develop a new strategic plan related to managing and exiting the crisis.
This is the time to be a leader, the employees will follow your lead and you need a strong team behind you to navigate the tough days ahead. Even if you are panic stricken and anxious, do not show anyone that you are dealing with these emotions. If you need assistance from outside sources, use them, do not let your pride interfere with doing what is in the best interest of you, the company, and the employees.
I speak from experience, while it is gut wrenching to be in battle mode every day, it does teach you some valuable lessons about yourself. Whatever the outcome may be, you will emerge stronger, as a better leader and business person. Sometimes, we learn more from failure than we do from success.