7 Ways to Manage a Workplace Crisis

A crisis can come up anytime, anywhere, and the workplace is no exception. People encountering performance issues, communication problems or interpersonal conflict in office spaces are not new occurrences. Adding to that, there are numerous instances of harassment, discrimination, and bullying that have taken over the workplace culture. All these are nothing but instances of workplace crisis – situations that are uncalled for, come without warning and need immediate resolution.

In hindsight, a crisis can also be triggered by external forces – conflict with clients, competitors in the market or even natural disasters. No matter how much you plan for prevention, one can never really be ready for a crisis because of its uncertain nature. Nevertheless, it is essential to be prepared for the unexpected, so that quick resolutions can be provided. 

For organizations to thrive in the long run, it is essential to deal with crises that come their way effectively. Here are seven ways that can help manage a workplace crisis:

Acknowledge the Crisis

Many a time, we fail at acknowledging that a crisis has arrived. We always wish that nothing terrible should ever happen to us and that thinking leaves us in denial mode when a crisis hits.

Ignoring challenges and beating around the bush might have landed you a few laurels from your boss, but that won’t happen when a crisis knocks your door.

Delaying the acknowledgment of a crisis can do more harm than good. It will delay the course of corrective action and can also escalate the level of damage. Hence, the crisis must be acknowledged at first sight.

Communication is the Key

Once the crisis is acknowledged, all the affected parties should be informed about the situation. As much as you would dread making the call to your client or knocking at your manager’s cabin, you just have to take the leap. The message should be passed on to all the members of the project, support teams, management, and clients. 

The core team should set the tone of the message, timing of delivering it and also list an expected date of resolution. If it is difficult to quote a resolution date, an update communication should be promised to all parties involved. 

It is well known that effective communication is to damage, what first aid is to an injury. Hence, providing timely and correct updates are of paramount importance in the case of crises.

Identify a Potential Resolution

All the causes of the crisis should be noted down to identify a potential resolution. The situation should be evaluated at a granular level and addressed with a flexible mindset. Past records or historical evidence can also come in handy in such situations.

As much as you would love to rush and get it done with, you should not act in haste. The focus should be on finding the right solution, not the quick one. 

Consult and Coordinate

No crisis can be resolved in silos and hence, you need to consult and coordinate with other members of the team. Brainstorming sessions can help bring in different perspectives to the potential resolution. You never know if someone from the group has already experienced a similar crisis and can help you arrive at the best-suited solution. 

There should be a central point of contact for the project who should bring along all the core and support team members to a single platform.

Have a Plan and Monitor its Implementation

Once the resolution has been identified, you need to build a plan of action. It should be detailed down by a list of activities involved and the team members responsible for the action. This should be followed by the expected timelines for finishing the tasks. 

The central point of contact should then closely monitor how the plan is coming up in action. Any changes or delays should be immediately addressed and acknowledged. 

Follow up for Actions

When the situation is turbulent and all parties are awaiting a resolution, follow-ups become essential. The central contact person should regularly follow-up with all the team members to understand any challenges or hurdles coming their way. The morale of the team can dwindle in a crisis situation and hence, checking up on them will boost their confidence. 

Although it is important to resolve the matter in the decided timeline, you don’t want your team members to feel lost or burnout. Hence, delays caused by challenges along the way should be accommodated in the plan.

Build from the Learning

Once the task is complete and the crisis has been averted, the learning from the experience should be noted down. Things like what went wrong, what could’ve been avoided, what is best suited as a solution should be listed for future reference. This will not only prepare the team members for the future crises but will also allow their counterparts in other teams to lean back on their actions as a guide.

They say that prevention is better than cure, but that shouldn’t stop you from preparedness. No matter how big or small the crisis, there is always a solution that will help you emerge out stronger.

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