Managing a crisis situation in the company

9 February 2024
Reading time 4 minuty

The pandemic is back – daily reports “from the frontlines” of the fight against the coronavirus indicate this. Therefore, more and more business owners and managements are asking themselves: not “if”, but “when will patient zero appear in my office”? And how then will I solve the problem?

The coronavirus has taken the world’s attention by storm. In a matter of months, it has changed people’s approach to social and family life, movement, shopping, business, the way they do their jobs or their decision to move every possible activity to the online sphere. The pandemic has literally covered our globe with a sheet that says CRISIS.

Krisis (from the Greek) means “solstice,” a turning point, a watershed. Therefore, a crisis is a sudden event, anticipated or not, which is the culmination of a crisis situation. A crisis is not an event in itself, but a consequence of an event or sequence of events. A crisis situation is an inherent process in the life of any company or organization. It is a situation that some companies try to prepare for (e.g. by defining procedures), monitoring the external situation (political, economic) and the environment as a whole. However, they will not predict when a crisis will occur.

Features of crises:

  1.  Surprise – a crisis usually occurs suddenly, unexpectedly.
  2. Negative nature – crises always threaten: values, financial situation, security, etc.
  3. The moment of climax – this is a turning point that leads either to a worsening of a given crisis or tilts the balance in favor of the organization or company.
  4. Change – reality is not the same after a crisis. Functioning, attitudes, etc. May change.
  5. Pressure of time, lack of knowledge, information or resources. What can lead to a deepening crisis?
  6. Threat to the functioning of the organization.
  7. Emotions – tension, uncertainty, sometimes panic or fear are emotions that accompany crises.

Crisis management prevention activities:

  1.  1. Establish a list of potential crises, situations that may occur and create a matrix showing: type of event, materiality, probability of occurrence and steps to be taken.
  2. Prepare general guidelines – management procedures.
  3. Developing scenarios of potential crises and superimposing the path of operational and communication activities.
  4. Simulations, organization of training and media training (Board of Directors, crisis staff, other members of the organization).

What if a so-called “zero” patient appears in our company?

It is worthwhile to create a document in advance that regulates the key and foreseeable issues related to such a situation. One of the important elements of the procedure is the establishment of a crisis staff::

  1. Determining the time in which it should be ready for action (preferably: right now).
  2. Designate the people who should be on the staff. Usually these are the employees who head the departments that are key to the operation and existence of the company itself from the operational (but also production or commercial) side, as well as those who direct communication inside the company (to employees) and outside. The crisis staff should definitely include:
  3. At least one member of the Board of Directors, and in serious situations the President, as there may be a need to make strategic decisions quickly for the future of the company.
  4. A spokesperson – a person who appears in the media, taking on direct communication with the media, representing the organization to journalists.
  5. Manager from the PR department – a person who coordinates the work of the public relations department, as well as an external agency.
  6. Manager from the department in which patient “zero” appeared.
  7. Assign tasks and areas of responsibility to these people.
  8. Determination of the shortest, yet most effective decision-making and reporting path in the staff.

Stages of crisis management:

  1. Preliminary analysis of specific crisis situations.
  2. Initiation of crisis staff activities.
  3. Analysis of factors related to the organization’s activities that may affect the occurrence and course of a specific case.
  4. Identification of external factors that may aggravate the crisis.
  5. Analysis of the internal and external environment of the organization, mapping the stakeholders with their relevance to the specific situation (to the communication policy).
  6. Analysis and selection of appropriate channels of communication of the organization with stakeholders.
  7. Development of communications messages and materials.
  8. Media monitoring.

Communication in the face of crisis

This is the second pillar of the crisis procedure. It includes several scenarios of how the situation will unfold, sample messages and their recipients (what do we want to say and to whom), defined communication tools and channels, as well as templates for documents that will go to those affected first:

  1. Employees, customers, contractors,
  2. Sanepid, gis, medical and other services,
  3. State and local institutions,
  4. To the media (if necessary).należy także uruchomić monitoring mediów, instytucjonalny i społeczny.

How to deal with the infected person or persons is the third “crown pillar.” It includes a description of actions towards confirmed cases, but also towards anyone who may have come into contact with a sick person in the company. This procedure, but also elements of the other pillars, should be communicated to employees well in advance, before the appearance of patient “zero.” This will avoid rumors, anxiety or panic, for example, at the sight of doctors entering the office in protective suits and masks.

What after the crisis?

Lessons learned and reports from the crisis can be valuable in subsequent difficult situations for the company. Therefore, once the crisis is over, it is a good idea to document the actions and their effects:

  1. Analysis of the crisis situation and the adequacy and effectiveness of the measures taken.
  2. Analysis of the measures applied that may be useful in other crises.
  3. Description of the case.
  4. Development of conclusions for the future – recommendations, good pratices, control procedures, organizational changes.

Corona crisis can be “tamed” with a well-prepared crisis procedure. It is not a panacea for every situation, it will not protect against possible losses or shaky business. Besides, this is not its task. The purpose of the crisis procedure is to regulate activities so that they can be introduced “coolly” and with detachment – this will give the company a better chance of emerging from a difficult situation in the best possible shape.

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