New Year, New Crisis Plan

When was the last time you reviewed your crisis response plan?

Whether they would admit or not, many organizations either do not have a crisis response plan or have one that is barely, if ever, reviewed. In the changing political and global context of today, having a dynamic crisis response plan that aligns with your business and is integrated across channels is critical to your operations.

In my experience, crises have a higher tendency to occur as a result of actions taken by an organization or in response to their mission or philosophy. You may, without realizing it, trigger a crisis by your actions – the releasing of a statement, a comment, a change in direction, an exit from a country, an issue with a program, funding, etc.

Rule number one with a crisis is that it will be incredibly fast-moving and will involve both digital and traditional media. Rule number two is that the issue that becomes a crisis will shock you – it will not be what you expect. Rule number three is that the press will seek comment from anyone with a relationship with the organization, past and present.

Some important tips:

  • Ensure senior leadership is committed and involved in the development of your plan (or updating your existing plan) and is actively engaged in live drills across the organization at least twice a year.
  • Be ready to respond and take control of the message with prepared spokespeople – not associated with the organization – who can speak on your behalf and to have supporters counter accusations on digital or start counter campaigns if needed.
  • Respond quickly – do not sit on the issue or bury your head in the sand – the longer you wait to respond, the more intense the crisis will become. Publicly provide action steps that you plan to take, the timeline in which you will take them and keep apologies short, and only apologize once.
  • Avoid becoming social shy – several recent crises showed that organizations and individuals tend to avoid digital when the heat is turned up, locking comments or maintaining scheduled posts throughout. You cannot – no matter how negative the comments or the campaigns or the memes – avoid your digital platforms.
  • Monitor digital, emails and calls so that any press that contact you are directed to the media team taking charge of vetting incoming calls and one spokesperson who had previously been trained and selected as the crisis spokesperson.
  • Stick with your talking points each time your spokesperson is interviewed to ensure that they are consistent with the facts. If an error has been made, admit it and state the necessary steps to ensure it will not happen again in the future – and make those steps publicly known.

The more visible you are, the more others may try to use your visibility for their own objectives and to advance their own agendas – for both positive and negative reasons. Recognizing the power of the collective and engaging with it will enable your brand to stay flexible and aware of changing trends and sentiments. But being prepared, and ensuring your leadership is prepared, is your ultimate strategy.


The Growing Leadership Talent Gap

Do you have what it takes to be a global leader?

A recent survey of 1,000 human resource professionals in eight countries found that one-third of global companies are struggling to find senior leaders with nearly half stating that leadership was “the skill hardest to find in employees”.

One of the reasons cited was the retirement at a rate of 4 million per year worldwide amongst the baby boomer generation. Another reason cited was the lack of leadership development programs for younger employees.

How can you take advantage of this gap and develop skills to turn you into a successful global leader?

Here are five skills to start developing today:

Communication skills. An ability to speak clearly, write clearly and to listen intently will be the key to your success. If English is the official language of your business, remember to slow down and be much more clear in your use of language than you would normally be to ensure all of your colleagues understand your message.

Critical thinking. An ability to analyze different scenarios, data and research as well as patterns in behaviors or systems is vital. You will constantly be assessing projects, goals and expectations across many countries; an ability to identify trends or outliers will enable you to be more efficient.

Cultural dexterity. This one takes practice and it is what I call “leaving your country behind on the tarmac”. You must be able to step outside of cultural constructs. A great tip for doing so is by telling yourself – constantly if needed – that you may be the only Canadian, Singaporean, South African that your colleagues and/or clients ever work with, so leave them with a positive experience.

Global mindset. Being open to new ways of working and seeing the world is essential as well as being able to view challenges and opportunities through a global lens. It will also make your day-to-day interactions with your colleagues more pleasant; however, do not expect to be a pro at this from the outset. That comes with practice.

Team leadership. Having a team mindset and experience leading teams is a must. Your management style may need to adjust depending on the business culture. Mastering an ability to be patient – observe and listen when in meetings and in your daily interactions with your team – will help you decipher expectations, cultural understandings and ways of working.

Your CEO on Twitter

Social media is a powerful tool to increase brand awareness and to lead conversations in your industry. The executive voice – the voice of your chairperson or CEO – can be a powerful component of your strategy. But, as JP Morgan experienced last week, there are some pitfalls to be wary of.

Most of us have had that phone call or conversation. Others may be dreading it. The day when your CEO asks, “How come I don’t have a Twitter account or how come ‘so and so’ has 10,000 more followers than me?” What follows are some tips to help you effectively set up your executive voice strategy to enhance your social media strategy, not overwhelm or undermine it.

The hard work, the research and persona definition should be done first as we outlined in the previous blog on creating your social media strategy. Not only for the brand but also for your CEO.

Using the same steps as you did with your brand, you will need to define the persona in consultation with the CEO and their staff. Is your CEO “bold” – leading the conversation and being a bit controversial? Are they “pro-active” and curating research, news and developments from across the industry? Determine what the goals are, what you intend to achieve and how it will support brand awareness and visibility. Match these goals to audience perceptions to ensure there is no disconnect.

With the goals and intent established, the online persona should be an honest reflection of the individual and where the individual is comfortable going. For example, if you set up a Twitter account for your CEO that is “bold”, whereas by nature she or he is “cautious”, it will have a dissonance that your audience will pick up on that will lead to a lack of trust. It sounds simple, but in the rush of conversation that is social media, the persona can get lost in the rush to stay in the game.

In these early development stages, determine and set a policy on who will have access to and who will manage the account. Ensure that this is outlined in the appendix of your strategy.

Think as logistically as possible as this choice can impact the account’s overall effectiveness. Is your CEO comfortable and available to run their account and keep track of the conversation? If not, then a member of your staff may need to be trained to do it and work closely with the CEO to accurately reflect their thoughts.

Quick Tips:

Directly involve your CEO in the development of their social media persona to support your brand’s social media goals.

The persona should reflect the true nature of your CEO – stay where they are comfortable, especially at the beginning.

Determine and set a policy for who will manage the account. It may be joint ownership until the CEO is comfortable and able to manage the account him/herself.