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by Michael Lodge
Crisis: Any situation that is threatening or could threaten to harm people or property, seriously interrupt business, significantly damage reputation and/or negatively impact the bottom line.
Every business and organization are vulnerable to some type of crisis. It can hit you when you least expect it. And it can be just about anything that can almost stop your company from continuing as a company. You panic not knowing what to do. I have lived through this and I know the exact feeling. It is a hard thing to live through but it can be done.
If you don’t prepare, you will incur more damage. When we look at existing crisis management-related plans while conducing a vulnerability review, what we find is a failure to address the many communication issues related to crisis/disaster response. Company leaders do not understand that, without very good internal and external communications: 1) Operational response will break down, 2) Stakeholders will not know what is happening and quickly become confused, angry and negatively reactive, 3) the company will be perceived as inept, at best, and criminally negligent, at worst, 4) the length of time required to bring full resolution to the issue will be extended, often dramatically.
ANTICIPATE CRISES: You are being proactive and preparing for crises, have a crisis communication team for intensive brainstorming sessions on all the potential crises that could occur.
There are at least two immediate benefits to this exercise: 1) you may realize that some of the situations are preventable by simply modifying existing methods of operation. 2) you can begin to think about possible responses, about best-case/worst-case scenarios, etc. Better now than when under the pressure of an actual crisis. In some cases, of course, you know a crisis will occur because you’re planning to create it – e.g., to lay off employees, or make a major acquisition. Or if you are in the accounting and tax industry one back decision by one accountant can create a crisis.
Healthcare professionals and organizations are subject to crises all the time in dealing with patients.
The crisis assessment process should lead to creating a Crisis Response Plan that is an exact fit for your organization, one that includes both operational and communications components. The better the planning and anticipating a crisis in any business will help the clients and the staff to go through the crisis knowing there is a plan at hand to address the issues that may affect everyone. Anticipate and plan for any crisis.