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Crisis Management 101

February 5th, 2018   •      

by Emily D. Tisdale


When it comes to our organizations, it can often be said that things are running smoothly… Until they’re not.

When a sudden crisis takes you and your staff by surprise, it can be hard to make sense of the situation. It only adds to the confusion that each crisis is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

However, as a leader, your employees and your organization depend on you to get things back on track. While every crisis will look a little different, you can prepare yourself.

Here are the three most common types of crisis you’ll encounter, along with tips on how to get back on track.

Staffing Issues

It’s a given that hiring the right employees is a must, however, it’s just as important to make sure that your organization is fully staffed as well. Unfortunately, staffing crises can hit at any time.

Even worse, while the reasons behind a staffing crisis can vary, it’s not uncommon to face a staffing shortage seemingly overnight. When confronted with a sudden crisis, it’s natural to try to solve the problem quickly by hiring as many new staff as possible. However, now is not the time for rash decisions.

Rather than making quick hires as a fix to get through the day, be mindful about your recruitment and hiring processes. The time and energy you invest now will only serve to save you from another staffing crisis down the road. This is also a chance for you to reflect on your current employee retention efforts and make any needed changes.  


A Highly Dissatisfied Customer

In our organizations, we all strive for the very highest level of customer service. And while excellence is the norm, it’s inevitable that an employee will slip up and a customer’s experience will be less than stellar.

Unfortunately, unhappy customers are usually extremely vocal about their experience, and word can spread quickly. In this highly connected age, it’s not unusual to see dissatisfied customers venting about their experiences on Yelp, Google Reviews, or one of the many other platforms available.

It’s easy to imagine this bad news snowballing into a full PR disaster. However, this need not be the case. By taking the time to work through the issue with the customer, you can go a long way towards rectifying the situation. Sometimes, an honest, respectful conversation works wonders. You may not always be able to smooth things over completely, but a genuine apology can truly have an impact.


A Social Media Blunder

Social media, with all of its benefits, can also be detrimental when it comes to our organizations. Not only does constant connectivity make it easier for unhappy customers to quickly share their experiences, it also opens the door for little gaffes to turn into PR nightmares.

For example, a hastily worded tweet can cause unintentional offense, and in a few minutes’ time can be easily shared by dozens (if not hundreds) of people. Sadly, public mistakes like these are common, and the damage isn’t always easy to overcome.

When you find yourself in a similar situation, it might seem best to simply delete the questionable content and move on. However, this isn’t always the best response. When facing the aftermath of a social media misstep, don’t avoid the situation – face it with humility and regret. Don’t be defensive; your best course of action for reputation recovery is to admit your mistakes and offer a sincere, public apology.



Unfortunately, it’s impossible to ever be 100% prepared for a crisis. After all, no one has a crystal ball with perfect insight into the future. Mistakes are inevitable, however, your approach to dealing with crisis situations can make all the difference in the world.

When dealing with a crisis, always remember to approach the situation with a proactive (rather than reactive) mindset. Taking this approach will not only help you get through a tough situation, but it will also help to ensure that your organization emerges on the other side even stronger than before.


Next time: How to Better Understand Your Employees

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