Having been to the Incentive Summit in Europe this month, we've been thinking about one of their core topics, Crisis Management. How do we handle risk, from both an individual and a company standpoint, and the fundamental steps to take when being faced with a high-stress situation?
Although you hope it will never happen to you, the scary reality is that crisis situations are a very real possibility. Of course, you shouldn’t let this stop you from doing what you want to do, but it’s important to ensure you are prepared.
As with most things, the key to making sure you’re able to cope in a high-stress situation is:
1) having a clearly mapped out plan
2) ensuring clear communication
These critical points go hand-in-hand. ‘Have a plan’ is, of course, easy to say but devising something that can work in any eventuality takes time, attention to detail and the approval of all potential stakeholders. Here are our tips to ensure that both of these fundamental steps are implemented in the most effective way:
Take your time to think about every step of how a situation might unfold. We suggest starting with a mind map detailing all possible outcomes, and the best solutions for them. Discuss these with a team with diverse experience to ensure that you’re covering all bases – no one knows everything, although they might think they do! We’d also suggest bringing in people from outside your immediate organisation, to ensure that no points are missed because you’re “too close” to the situation.
Once you have your map set out, put together a straightforward outline of the steps someone will need to take. By straightforward, we mean simple enough that if no-one with event experience was available, someone from a completely different background could also follow the outline with confidence. Think about things that aren’t necessarily an initial threat, but might become one slightly later down the line, and be proactive for your future very-stressed self.
Most importantly, make sure you stick to your plan if the situation ever does arise. In times of high stress, it’s easy to deviate: we go into our flight-or-fight mode. That’s why the plan is there, so let it do its job and support you.
Have your communication lines set-out in your plan. Ask yourself questions – we suggest these as a starting point:
Who do you call at varying levels of severity?
A crisis can range in severity and in response your plan and line of communication should adapt. In some companies, it might be that the top decision maker will need to be involved in every situation. However, and normally in larger companies, it’s more likely that the person at the top of the tree will not need to get involved in every scenario. We suggest having an escalation process, so that the initial handler of the incident always knows to call the same person and that is then escalated as needed, avoiding additional stress.
Who makes the final decision?
In some scenarios it may be that your escalation communication chain is broken, perhaps you are unable to contact someone. To avoid disrupting procedure, have a back-up by setting a “scale of severity” from the outset, giving you a reference tool to know who will be making decisions on the company’s behalf in each level of scenario.
Who handles the non-immediate threat?
As well as the person making decisions relating to a scenario, you need to think about the person responsible for handling the effects of the crisis. For example, who will be dealing with the press? Who will handle personal matters? Who’s responsible for insurance? Although this won’t be the first thing that comes to your mind at peak stress, it’s really important that you engage your entire crisis team so all possible support is in place.
Most importantly, ensure the supporting team around you, be it from an agent, DMC or venue, are fully geared up to support you in all situations, and share your plan with them to ensure this.
We hope that you never have to put your plan into action. However, preparing these steps will help you have peace of mind that you’re covered if a situation ever does arise!
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