Source: Compliance Week
With the coronavirus pandemic front and center on everyone’s mind these days, companies are having to walk a fine line, taking care to communicate necessary and important information while also preventing widespread panic. How to go about doing that effectively begins and ends with a robust crisis management plan, according to Compliance Week.
While many business executives are no strangers to corporate crises, the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented in its scope.
“It’s unique in so many different ways because of the global scale of it,” said Brian Finch, a Pillsbury partner who co-leads the firm’s coronavirus response team.
In many ways, however, responding to the coronavirus from a crisis management standpoint is no different than responding to any other crisis. Companies that are best situated in these scenarios are those that can build a crisis plan for “navigating the unforeseeable twists and turns and being nimble in real-time,” said Amanda Halter, who co-leads Pillsbury’s coronavirus response team with Finch.
One key element to any plan is having both an internal and external communication plan in place. Start by identifying key stakeholder groups—employees, customers, business partners, suppliers, shareholders, and others. Then you can start to think about what messages need to be delivered, in what form, and how frequently. “Part of the core team’s challenge is to thread the needle between frequent communication and communication fatigue,” Halter explained. “Those are real-time adjustments that you need to make.”
Also, be sure to review and revise your business continuity plan.
“Business continuity is a component of a crisis management plan. It’s not one in the same,” Halter said. A crisis management plan considers additional elements that are important to the organization’s overall health, whereas a business continuity plan focuses on a checklist around functions of the organization.
“There are a lot of organizations that have a business continuity plan and don’t necessarily have a crisis management plan,” Halter said. “What I would say to them is that it is still very much possible to organize in real-time.”
Finch also asked whether the business has the technology bandwidth to cope with a remote workforce. Are internal systems configured, established, and robust enough to meet the “unprecedented surge in peak demand?”
Finally, keep calm and carry on. “When you have so many things coming at you in a crisis scenario, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds,” Halter said. It’s important to pause and to constantly be tracking back to the company’s overall crisis management objectives—whether that’s maintaining a healthy workforce, managing the production of key facilities, or customer relations—and being willing to adjust course in real-time.
In this unprecedented time, Halter said, “There will be error. The key thing is how quickly you can assess the error or assess the adjustment that needs to be made and actually make it.”