When we plan, whether it's a personal plan, a business marketing plan, or a non profit development plan, we assume we are going to be successful. We work hard to make sure the plan will lead us to success. But, there are many things that can cause delays and even derail us from our end goals and outcomes. But, most plans do not have a crisis component built into it. That is a mistake because ANYTHING could go wrong, I've seen some of the best laid plans fail miserably because something went wrong.
When a crisis occurs you might be able to maintain it internally without news leaking to the public, but more often than not the public finds out. So, plan for the plan failing, plan for a crisis and plan that the news will go public. Here are 3 things you must do when managing this kind of crisis.
1. Don't hide from it or say "no comment."
When a crisis occurs for you, your business or organization, don't hide from it. Whether it has gone public or not, take action. Call a meeting with at least your senior staff and communicate exactly what is going on. If the news has gone public, do not wait for the press to pound down your door. Be proactive and keep the story in your control by calling a press conference. Never say "no comment." Those two words always means you are hiding something or you don't know how to talk about what is happening. When you are straightforward and forthright about what is going on, people will continue to trust you through the crisis and this is important when things go wrong. You need many supporters by your side while you "fix" things.
2. Be authentic and real, apologize if necessary.
In our personal relationships, when we know we've done something wrong (though it might take us some time to figure it out and even admit it!), we apologize when we know we were wrong or if our actions hurt the other person. The same is true if your in business or run a non profit. If you screwed up, apologizing is the fastest way to have people sympathize and want to help. If you try to defend the actions, or blame something or someone else, the community and your customers will lose respect fast, and you will lose them fast. Be honest about what is happening and be authentic in your response about taking responsibility and making things right again.
3. Share what you do great and that you stand by your mission and passion.
Hey, we all make mistakes. Some of us make big ones compared to others, but you know you've done some great stuff for the community with your products and services. In fact, the back lash around your mistake wouldn't be such a big deal if people didn't know about or care in some way about your work and what you provide them. So, remind the public and yourselves internally about what you stand for, your accomplishments reaching up to this point. Also, communicate how you problem solve in your organization and exactly the steps you are taking to get you back on track to fulfilling your mission and passion.
Whether you are a small business that has made a client angry or a non profit organization dealing with financial mismanagement, these 3 tips for managing a crisis will help you navigate your way through the tumultuous times. Remember, be proactive and plan for a crisis to occur so you can think through exactly how you will handle it and your business or organization can emerge with the least amount of damage and repair needed.