Crisis management is key to damage control when an organization is in trouble. Players are involved on both sides of the crisis who are either deeply affected by it or responsible for initiating it. Either way, both sides must work together to achieve the key objectives of crisis management and reach a favorable outcome.
Crisis Management Defined
According to BusinessDictionary.com, the definition of "crisis management" is the “set of procedures applied in handling, containment, and resolution of an emergency in planned and coordinated steps.” This often requires a manager who specializes in crisis management, or a high-level executive if the crisis pertains to an organizationwide issue. Either way, the person in charge must possess shrewd crisis decision-making abilities in order to lessen the effects of the crisis.
Identifying the Real Problem
The first objective of crisis management is to identify the problem that created the crisis -- something not always straightforward to do. In fact, it might be a mystery as to how it all started. Therefore, it’s crucial to investigate and dig deeper into understanding the problem, so that all sides have a better understanding of how chaos occurred as a result of the conflict. In trying to achieve this crucial objective, neither side should withhold information, and both parties must have a nonjudgmental tone when investigating the source of the problem.
Managing the Flow of Information
The second objective objective of crisis management is to manage the flow of information. Always anticipate that news of the conflict will come out, especially in the age of the Internet and social media websites. If the harmful event is something that affects the public, then it’s always best to prepare a press release or hold a press conference as a preliminary step to cool the panic that they might have as a result of the conflict. Inform the public, or whomever is affected, what steps the company is taking to alleviate the problem. Keep things transparent.
Understanding the Adversary
The third objective of crisis management is to understand the adversary, that is, assuming it is someone or some group, as opposed to some thing. If adversaries believe they have no leverage, then they will believe that there’s no point in negotiating -- and the crisis escalates big time. However, they might hold some advantages that you might not be aware of. It’s best to figure this out on your own rather than asking them, so that once you find it, you'll know how to negotiate in a way that both parties walk away satisifed.