Its Friday afternoon when the phone rings. Something truly bad has happened – something that could change the face of your company. What to do next?
Breathe deep and think through these steps:
- Gather the essential information. Gather all of the essential information. Not everything will be available right away, but more information will come in over time. Ask good questions about the who, what, where, when and why of the incident. What happened, who was impacted, where did this occur, is there a looming threat, was anyone injured, and are there other details about why this happened??
- Convene the right partners. If you have it, and you haven’t used it already, this is the time to apply your Crisis Playbook plan because now you need to think through the communications, social media, HR, operations, customer service, and other needs. Bring the leaders of those teams together to weigh in through a conference call or at a private location that everyone can meet – try to pull everyone together within the next hour.
- Share out. All of the key leaders should share an update on what they know as of that moment. That means the operations and/or field team should give an update about the known facts – and what is still unknown. The communications and/or social media person should share about whether there has been any media or social media activity yet. After the update, review each person’s role and their next steps. Capture this information in the notes and send a recap to everyone so they have a clear roadmap. Repeat this step every few hours during a major incident – or once a day for a less severe situation.
- Law enforcement. If the incident warrants police or agency involvement, reach out to identify a point of contact and open line of communication.
- Lessons Learned: After your company gets past the incident, gather the team to discuss the lessons learned and opportunities to improve while it is fresh in their minds. This is a great time to review your Crisis Playbook plan and make tailored changes wherever there were gaps. Every incident is an opportunity to practice your plan and make improvements.
For more on specific incidents, there are Crisis Playbook chapters for a variety of situations. Having a crisis plan will help you guide your team – or serve as a helpful member of the response team.