Crisis management is one of the biggest themes in the routine of quality professionals. It is basically what allows activities to be executed, reducing risks and protecting employees. This means businesses are able to remain intact and competitive.
How can quality be maintained in times of crisis? From the point where companies start to face difficulties up until the moment that the crisis ceases to exist, uncertainties vary according to the impacts generated on the market’s operational chain. In some situations, there are few potential changes to the company’s quality, while in other scenarios a company must guarantee quality by changing how it operates. In this post, we will explore how organizations are dealing with process improvement to guarantee quality during a crisis.
In this blog post you will understand about:
- Crisis preparation
- Crisis management stages
- Crisis management team
- Communication channels
- Corporate reputation
The first part of maintaining quality in crisis management is to prepare for possible crises. This involves creating models of action plans for possible crises in your segment. This may involve suppliers, the market, distributors, legislation, innovations, and others. It is fundamental to develop or hire teams and execute training programs to prepare employees for crisis situations. Finally, perform recurring hands-on exercises to make sure that the plan programmed increases the chances of ensuring your company’s quality.
Remember that crisis management communications must be prepared in advance. Draft notification templates (emails, software alerts, automation, videos, physical templates) so you can relay information quickly in times of crisis. This helps to minimize “fake news” and reinforces the employee confidence in the company.
Crisis management stages
The second step in crisis management is literally the process of dealing with and responding to the stages of the crisis. But first, let’s understand what these crisis management stages are. This will help you understand how to respond to situations that may arise.
While predicting which risks can turn into a crisis is very complicated and uncertain, there are often signs that can serve as a warning. These signs can originate from several factors, such as employees / unions, weather patterns, political behaviors, emerging markets, and more, depending on your company’s segment.
The risk assessment stage begins right after the crisis begins. At this point, specialists and managers are beginning to assess and understand the relationship between and the company’s risk and quality. Among these assessments, the possible consequences and scope of the crisis are mapped. Possible damage and problems must be addressed during crisis management. This allows the organization to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
Communication and response
After assessing the risks of the crisis, the organization must decide which action plans are relevant to the crisis. All interested parties (including employees, customers and suppliers) must be notified. The company must communicate its current situation, how it will act during the crisis and what procedures will be followed. These responses need to be communicated constantly to get rid of any questions and ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the actions that will be taken to mitigate risks, incidents and problems.
Crisis management in action
Management of activities to mitigate the crisis begins. At this point, everyone involved starts working on action plans to resolve events that arise. This stage calls for the same type of communication used in the communication and response phase. This lets the company ensure that employees, customers and interested parties are updated on the company’s situation.
Solutions to the crisis
At this time, everyone involved needs to be aware of the activities that must be performed. The organization already understands the indicators that guarantee quality in crisis management. Risks ought to be practically under control at this point. This is also when most of the plans and actions necessary to return business to normal are initiated.
Business is starting to get back on track and resolution plans are underway. At this stage, employees begin to return to their routines. Processes related to customers and products are operating normally again.
Crisis management team
It is very important to create and train teams that have experience, skills and competencies. This team can quickly assess situations and guide the actions that must be taken. They also help to provide clarification and support in relation to any adversity encountered during the crisis. Some of the main jobs of a crisis management team include:
- Finding evidence that a crisis is going to happen.
- Guide and prepare employees on the implementation of a crisis management plan.
- Ensure that the organization’s mindset remains positive during (and after) any crisis event.
- Propose improvements to manage crises in future scenarios.
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An organization needs to provide information before, during and after crises. Best practices call for creation of a section on the company website to provide clarification on crisis management, as well as launching email marketing campaigns with stakeholders. This requires the crisis team to anticipate the types of crises that your organization may face. For example, companies that produce consumer goods may experience crises related to damages caused by their products and that require recall actions. This communication must be conveyed through multiple channels and be available to consumers. Some good practices are:
- Create an exclusive section on the website to communicate and resolve crisis issues.
- Share action scripts, service scripts and FAQs on your intranet.
- Use digital (email) and analog notification resources (banners in high-flow locations) to reach employees and stakeholders during a crisis.
Companies must identify strategies to repair their reputation. Crises generate concerns in the minds of stakeholders, and this raises questions about the company’s ability to deal with future situations. Reputation repair strategies vary in terms of how much people have been impacted or threatened by the crisis. Crisis management should be more focused on helping people than on addressing concerns related to the organization’s survival. Here, we have listed some strategies related to rehabilitating your company’s reputation:
- Attack the accuser: confront the person or group that is making a claim against your organization.
- Denial: state that there is no crisis by showing data, facts and statistical projections.
- Scapegoat: blame a fact or group outside the organization for the crisis.
- Excuse: minimizes organizational responsibility, denying any intention to cause damage and / or claiming an inability to control the events that triggered the crisis.
- Provocation: the crisis was the result of actions by other people or organizations.
- Knowledge: lack of information about the events that led to the crisis.
- Accidental: lack of control over the events that led to the crisis.
- Justification: Crisis management minimizes the damage perceived and caused by the crisis.
- Background: Crisis managers inform stakeholders about the organization’s good work.
- Compensation: the organization offers financial support to victims and interested parties.
- Apologies: the organization takes full responsibility for the crisis and apologizes to the interested parties.
It is important to remember that reputation repair can be used in the crisis response, post-crisis or both. Keep in mind that not all crises require actions to repair reputation. The information provided by the organization for crisis management is usually already sufficient.
It is difficult to apply all crisis management-related practices in a real situation. We try to identify the main ones that are most widely used by crisis analysts. In effective crisis management, companies not only minimize damage, but are also able to create opportunities to renew their brands and become stronger in the market. No organization is immune to a crisis; that is why everyone should do their best to prepare for one.