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Why there’s no substitute for experience when crisis strikes

February 3, 2017 by Jonathan Hemus

Our recent webinar revealed seven rules for reputation protection from Guy Esnouf’s thirty plus years’ of experience in the crisis management front line at businesses including Glaxo, Microsoft and npower.

Guy’s advice for anyone managing a crisis is:

  • Be in the room 
  • Get approval routes sorted out 
  • Establish your objectives 
  • Know what will drive the story 
  • Control what you can 
  • Understand the emotion as well as the facts 
  • Measure – but know what the limits of measurement are 
Crisis Management Leadership

For a deeper understanding of Guy’s crisis communication principles you can download a copy of our report or listen to a recording of the webinar.

Crisis management planning

Guy’s rules are based on decades of experience dealing with all manner of incidents, issues and crises across sectors and around the world. This ‘battlefield’ experience is priceless.

But how can you do and say the right thing in the heat of a crisis if you are at an earlier stage in your career or have been lucky enough never to encounter a major incident?

Plugging the experience gap

Here are three ways of plugging the experience gap:

1) Appoint a ‘wise owl’ to your crisis management team – identify well respected company executives who have lived through previous incidents. Co-opt them on to your crisis management team: their sage advice and wisdom could be critical in navigating a high pressure situation.

2) Call upon trusted third parties to provide independent advice – whether non-executive directors, business mentors or trusted consultants, identify people who have the expertise and credibility to act as a sounding board to the crisis management team. Their external perspective is vital at a time when the team can become too close to the situation.

3) Commit to rehearsals – whilst nothing can replicate the intensity of a real crisis, a comprehensive programme of crisis management training is the next best thing. Engaging the crisis management team in scenario planning, walking through desktop exercises and making decisions under pressure in a crisis simulation all help to build the confidence and capability of your crisis management team.

Planning to succeed in crisis management

Crisis management is an area in which there is no substitute for experience. Recognising this and planning accordingly will help to ensure a well considered crisis management response should the worst happen.

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