August 25th, 2020
[The following appeared as commentaries by Edward Segal in his weekly “Crisis Ahead” podcast. Watch previous episodes and subscribe to the podcast at https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCwx26phRVnXdnnaJt71cqZw, Or listen to them at https://thecrisisaheadpodcast.podbean.com/]
There are three important factors that every company and organization should take into account when planning and preparing for a crisis: geography, weather, and the economy.
Where companies are located can increase the likelihood that they will have to deal with a crisis such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes or snowstorms.
Unfortunately, the current national public health emergency can make any nature-related crisis even worse. On top of that, there is the continuing economic impact of the pandemic.
These worst-case scenarios come true underscore the need to prepare for anything that Mother Nature might throw at you. That means having a crisis management plan — and contingency plans — so that you will know what to do when a crisis strikes, how to do, who will do it, when to do it, and why to do it.
It also means testing your plans on a frequent basis to ensue the plans will work when needed and that your crisis management team will work well together.
If you wait until a disaster hits your organization to come up with a plan to deal with it, you will make it even more challenging to respond to, manage, and recover from the crisis.
Doing the Right Thing
When your organization is faced with a crisis, will it do everything it can to address the situation or as little as possible. Or will it refuse to do anything at all out of fear of alienating customers and losing money?
As the pandemic continued to surge across the country, the owner of a restaurant in Gaithersburg, Maryland defied the law and refused to require employees to wear face masks. His defiance did not sit well with members of the public, some of whom reportedly made death threats and boycotted the establishment The restaurant soon closed, and the owner put it up for sale.
How is your organization responding to the pandemic? Is it doing everything it can and should to protect employees, customers, and the public? If not, why not? And if not, is the organization prepared to face a backlash for refusing to do what it should in this national public health crisis?
Whether your company admits it or not, their refusal to do the right thing in a crisis only helps make a crisis even worse — and could create even more problems and challenges for your company.
Resignations Can Cause a Crisis — or Help End Them
As reported by the New York Times and other news organizations, Neil Golightly resigned as the Boeing’s senior Vice President of communications. When he was a 29-year old Navy pilot in 1987, Golightly wrote an article that appeared in Proceedings, a publication of the United States Naval Institute. In that article, Golightly said that women should not serve in combat.
Although he said he renounced the arguments in the article soon after he wrote the piece, a Boeing employee recently complained about the story. The complaint led to Golightly’s resignation just six months after he started the job.
The last thing Boeing needed was another crisis to deal with. The company, after all, has yet to recover from the crashes of two of its planes in 2018 and 2019.
While it may not be fair that someone lost their job for something they wrote so long ago and has apologized for, this incident reflects some important realities about today’s workplace and culture.
The resignation of company officials is just one of dozens of events that can trigger a crisis for organizations. The cause and effect of the event that triggers the crisis can happen to your company today — or it could take months or years before an incident comes to light or resurfaces.
But a crisis is a crisis — no matter what causes it. The challenge is for companies to deal with it quickly, efficiently, and strategically, and put it behind them as fast as possible.
That’s why if any unflattering details of the past activities of your employees come to light, you should be ready to respond quickly and appropriately. The sooner you act, the sooner you can put the crisis behind you.