26 May Preparing for the next crisis: Your people hold the key
Last year, inspired by a burglar entering our home one night, I wrote a blog about the fundamental principles of issues and crisis planning and management.
Ten months later, after an intruder going by the name of COVID-19 threatened to break into all of our homes, workplaces and livelihoods, those same principles still applied:
- Know your stakeholders.
- Tell your community what to expect.
- Have a plan in place.
- Keep people updated.
- Trust the experts.
- Be clear and consistent.
- Follow up.
- Learn from the past.
And now, as organisations reopen their doors and staff reintegrate into the workplace, principle number eight is critical.
Preparing for crises is the most important part of crisis management, and taking the time to capture the learnings from our time in lockdown and applying those to future crisis plans will be a vital part of that preparation.
Holding the key to those valuable learnings is all of the people within your organisation.
As we are reminded regularly, these were unprecedented times. No one has lived or worked through an event of this scale before, so we were all on a level playing field. No one really knew what the “right” thing to do was, we all responded the best we could at the time, and had to learn and adapt quickly.
Every staff member, therefore, has valuable insights and perspectives to share. Consulting and working with your staff to develop a future crisis plan, will result in a plan that is representative, practical and realistic to implement. It will also mean that, should you be faced with another crisis, everyone will be on board, there’ll be no surprises, and no one will be caught on the backfoot.
We recommend using this time to meet with staff kanohi ki te kanohi, holding workshops and conducting surveys, while the lockdown experience is still fresh in their minds, with the aim of getting an understanding of people’s experiences – the good and the bad.
This is also a way to build on the appreciation and momentum for good internal communications that you will have developed as the COVID-19 crisis hit. These learnings will not only be important for establishing a crisis plan, they will also help you consider your wider organisational culture and business values moving forward.
Alongside this, expectations and attitudes towards remote and flexible working will have changed – organisations will be expected to adapt, and your people will appreciate being able to have a say on what that could look like and what is most important to them.
Sound leadership – being visible, genuine, transparent and consistent, also needs to be maintained. In an environment where there is still a degree of uncertainty, facing up to hard conversations, letting your staff know you don’t yet have all the answers but are focused on developing plans and solutions with their values in mind, will be important in retaining confidence, motivation and engagement across the business.
Doing a COVID-19 stock take and bringing your employees on the journey with you is a huge opportunity which, as the saying goes, is as at the heart of every crisis.
While none of us wish to face such a crisis again, what COVID-19 has shown us is that anything can happen. Yesterday’s earthquake in the Central North Island region, which struck while the Prime Minister was live on breakfast television, was a stark reminder of this.
The big question is, if a crisis of any scale was to hit your organisation next week, would you be ready?
Send me an email via [email protected] or give me a call on 027 558 7070 if you’d like C2 to hold a half-day workshop free of charge with you and your team so you can capture valuable learnings while they’re still front of mind.