Nandkumar Y Sanglikar Communications Consultant
In last two articles we saw what is a crisis and ways to communicate during a crisis. In this article let us see how crises are managed. Let us first understand what does the term Crisis Management means and includes.
Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a major event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public. The study of crisis management originated with the large-scale industrial and environmental disasters in the 1980s. It is considered to be the most important process in Public Relations.
Three elements are common to a crisis: (a) a threat to the organization, (b) the element of surprise, and (c) a short decision time. Crisis is a process of transformation where the old system can no longer be maintained.
The organisational response includes actions in the following areas: Crisis prevention, crisis assessment, crisis handling and crisis termination. The aim of crisis management is to be well prepared for crisis, ensure a rapid and adequate response to the crisis, maintaining clear lines of reporting and communication in the event of crisis and agreeing rules for crisis termination.
The techniques of crisis management include a number of consequent steps from the understanding of the influence of the crisis on the corporation to preventing, alleviating, and overcoming the different types of crisis. Crisis management consists of different aspects including:
- Methods used to respond to both the reality and perception of crisis.
- Creating different scenarios that constitute a crisis and should consequently trigger the necessary response mechanisms.
- Communication that occurs within the response phase of emergency-management scenarios.
Crisis-management methods of a business or an organization are called a crisis-management plan.
Seasoned communicators have a a crisis mindset which calls for an ability to think of the worst-case scenario while simultaneously suggesting numerous solutions. Trial and error is an accepted discipline, if the first line of defence does not work. It is necessary to maintain a list of contingency plans and to be always on alert. Organizations and individuals should always be prepared with a rapid response plan to emergencies which would require analysis, drills and exercises.
The credibility and reputation of organizations is heavily influenced by the perception of their responses during crisis situations. The organization and communication involved in responding to a crisis in a timely fashion makes for a challenge in businesses. There must be open and consistent communication throughout the hierarchy to contribute to a successful crisis communication process.
Types of Crisis
During the crisis management process, it is important to identify types of crises in that different crises necessitate the use of different crisis management strategies. Potential crises are enormous, but crises can be clustered.
Communications experts have categorized eight types of crises
1. Natural disaster
2. Technological crises
5. Organizational Misdeeds
6. Workplace Violence
8. Terrorist attacks/man-made disasters
Natural crisis: Natural crises, typically natural disasters, are such environmental phenomena as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, tsunamis, floods and droughts as these threaten life, property, and the environment itself.[
Technological crisis: Technological crises are caused by erroneous human application of science and technology. Technological accidents inevitably occur when technology becomes complex and coupled and something goes wrong in the system as a whole.
Confrontation crisis: Confrontation crisis occur when discontented individuals and/or groups fight businesses, government, and various interest groups to win acceptance of their demands and expectations.
Crisis of malevolence: An organization faces a crisis of malevolence when opponents or miscreant individuals use criminal extreme tactics for the purpose of expressing hostility or anger toward, or seeking gain from, a company, country, or economic system, perhaps with the aim of destabilizing or destroying it.
Crisis of organizational misdeeds: Crisis occur when management takes actions it knows will harm or place stakeholders at risk for harm without adequate precautions.
Workplace violence: This form of crisis occurs occur when an employee or former employee commits violence against other employees on organizational grounds.
Rumors: False information about an organization or its products creates crises hurting the organization’s reputation. Sample is linking the organization to radical groups or stories that their products are contaminated.
Crisis leadership: Alan Hilburg, a pioneer in crisis management, defines organizational crises as categorized as either acute crises or chronic crises. Erika Hayes James, an organizational psychologist at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business, identifies two primary types of organizational crisis. He defines organizational crisis as “any emotionally charged situation that, once it becomes public, invites negative stakeholder reaction and thereby has the potential to threaten the financial well-being, reputation, or survival of the firm or some portion thereof.”
Sudden crisis: Sudden crises are circumstances that occur without warning and beyond an institution’s control. Consequently, sudden crises are most often situations for which the institution and its leadership are not blamed.
Smoldering crisis: Smoldering crises differ from sudden crises in that they begin as minor internal issues that, due to manager’s negligence, develop to crisis status. These are situations when leaders are blamed for the crisis and its subsequent effect on the institution in question.
James categorises five phases of crisis that require specific crisis leadership competencies Each phase contains an obstacle that a leader must overcome to improve the structure and operations of an organization. James’s case study on crisis in the financial services sector, for example, explores why crisis events erode public trust in leadership.