When facing a major disaster, whether cyber or environmental, great leaders respond with planned action, rather than reflex reactions. Leaders who neglect advance planning risk the possibility of mistakes that can cost them customers and hurt business.
In a recent Inc. Magazine article, JetBlue Chairman Joel Peterson offers his personal observations of crisis management and top 10 best practices among great leaders when “what if?” becomes “what now?”
1| Customers First – Be sure people depending on you are taken care of and keep the lines of communication open before, during, and after a crisis.
2| Employee Safety – Addressing customer needs also means taking care of the people who serve them.
3| Practice – Take your plans on a test spin internally. Include key players in a role-play practice of every imaginable complication that may occur along the way.
4| Redundant Systems – Ensure more than one person is familiar with plans and plan for multiple ways to execute them. Store procedures centrally with a back up.
5| Worst Case Scenario – Brainstorm all the possibilities that can occur with customers and operations staff.
6| Operational Leader – Appoint a crisis manager to streamline your course of action and reporting system.
7| Spokesperson Prep – Prepare your spokesperson in advance and make sure all media are directed to that contact.
8| Message Clarity – Prepare a question and answer sheet in advance, based on different crisis scenarios. Be clear about what you want people to know. Create clear, empathetic, action-oriented messages focusing on solutions, not blame.
9| Self-Promotion Pitfall – During times of crisis, audiences are sensitive to grandstanding, the idea of someone taking advantage of an unfortunate situation to get press. Keep focused on solutions and the benefits will naturally follow.
10| Post-Mortem – No matter now much preparation you’ve done, some things will go well; others won’t. It’s important to document effective tactics, and non-effective ones along the way and perform a detailed review immediately after the matter is resolved.