Every company needs a crisis management plan to prepare for an emergency. If you are a business owner, it’s important to learn the essential elements in a crisis management plan, how to write it, and which management tools to use.
Did you know that more than 50% of organizations don’t have a crisis management plan at all? If you are one of them, it’s time to sit down and start planning, because the future of your company may depend on it.
So, where should you begin? If you are new to this process and don’t have the experience it may seem like a daunting task. Luckily for you, this simple guide will teach you everything you need to know about preparing your business’ crisis management plan. Let’s get started.
What Is a Crisis Management Plan?
CMP (crisis management plan) describes how your company will react to a crisis, including who exactly will be involved and what they will need to do. This plan helps you to minimize harm and fix all operations as soon as possible.
A crisis can come in many forms but, mostly, it threatens your business’ reputation, finances, operations, or strategic objectives. Consultants at Insignia Crisis explain that the crisis management plan is a key piece of management because some emergencies can jeopardize health, lives, and safety.
Statistics have shown that more and more companies recognize the significance of this plan since the number of crisis management plans has increased by 30% in the last three years.
Developing A Crisis Management Plan: Items To Include
To create a crisis plan you will need a crisis management team. All team members must have input and consult senior management, operations staff, and other stakeholders. The plan defines important roles and each person’s responsibilities.
President and CEO of the Institute for Crisis Management Deborah Hileman explain: “A good crisis plan possesses a variety of elements that prepare crisis team members to effectively perform their duties when a crisis occurs.”
You should include responsibilities and team roles in your plan and don’t forget the operations center details, the chain of command, the command system structure, and mitigation, communication, and recovery activities, as well as protocols that are particular to common scenarios.
Emergencies are unpredictable and that is why your crisis management plan must be practical and flexible. It should be able to adapt to changing circumstances and make sure you can realistically carry out the task while under pressure.
Here is a list of components you should cover in your crisis management plan.
Summarizing the potential scenarios you think your business could face is crucial. Having a more specific sense of them will guide your planning. Of course, you don’t have to include every risk but be sure to cover a broad range. For example:
- Natural disaster
- Technology failure
- Shooter in the workplace
- Death of a CEO
- Financial crisis
- Product failure
- Operational accident
- Loss of utilities
Including triggers for the crisis management plan is very important because the natural first response to the critical situation is often paralysis. Define the circumstances that activate a specific response by using levels of urgency as your norm.
Don’t forget to also explain how to increase that response if the crisis turns out to be more serious than it first appeared.
This protocol should direct your employees on how to respond, based on the location and type of the incident. Make sure you establish some kind of signal that the crisis has ended.
Chain Of Command
It must be completely clear to everybody who has the final authority and who reports to whom, so make sure you include a crisis management-related chart in your plan.
Making it well-defined will support coordination and consistency. If the event happens to be more serious you may need additional layers of command in your plan.
Command Center Plan
Decide what will serve as a base for your team during the emergency and indicate what utilities and supplies they will require. If the first command center is unavailable you will need to have a backup.
It’s highly recommended to choose a location that is separate from your company’s main location.
This room should be accessible 24/7 and have phone connections, power, Wi-Fi, and a strong cell signal. It should also be close to bathrooms and showers and have a lounge area. Here is a list of equipment your center should have:
● Conference table
● Videoconferencing capability
● A large whiteboard
● Cable-connected televisions
● A projector and screen
● Computer workstations
● Office supplies
● Network connection
● Bottled water
● Non Perishable snacks
Response Action Plans
Make a detailed plan on how to respond in various scenarios and assign responsibility for each task.
When you conceptualize emergency situations in this way you are making your crisis management plan flexible and adaptable, don’t forget you can as well use some management tools in order to solve your problems.
Regina Phelps, founder of Emergency Management & Safety Solutions recommends using the “all-hazard” approach, which means to write your plan having all potential hazards in mind and not one specific crisis.
This way you will always be ready, regardless of the nature of the event.
Internal Communication Plan
Creating a system and backup methods for members of the crisis team to communicate is essential. Make sure you collect contact info for all members of your team, as well as subject matter experts and outside consultants.
Additionally, you should establish ways to distribute urgent information to your staff, for example:
● Use a notification provider to send texts
● Figure out a method for your staff to check-in and report their whereabouts and safety.
● Share sensitive information internally (if there is a threat or death situation)
● Establish a schedule and a mechanism for updates
Having a good crisis management plan is critical because, without one, people may make poor decisions while under stress and pressure and unintentionally worsen a problem.
The key to your company’s survival is taking constructive, swift actions. In the middle of an emergency situation, a crisis plan keeps your staff focused on top priorities and helps to cope with fear, doubts, and insecurities.
Making a crisis management plan assists you to identify dangers, minimize their likelihood, and improve the response.