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In a Crisis, Teamwork is Key

My four-year-old son came home from preschool the other day and told me “teamwork makes the dream work.” Aside from being impressed with his ever-burgeoning vocabulary, what really made me happy was the sentiment. Working with clients in crisis throughout my career I’ve come to realize just how important teamwork is in these situations. When a crisis strikes your organization, you must work quickly. And you must work as a team.

Every organization should take a lesson from pre-K students and prepare to work together as one. There are some basic good practices organizations can follow to have a team prepared for a crisis. To get there, let’s work backward for a moment.

The best way to tackle a crisis is to be prepared ahead of time. Put together a crisis preparedness plan and team, learn how to anticipate a crisis, and by all means, never feel like your organization is immune to something bad happening, because that’s a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, a crisis never arises at an opportune time and, by definition, it will be a stressful experience. Knowing all this, and recognizing that there is an absolute need to act quickly, protect the institution, and end the crisis, here are three ways a crisis team can work together and help an organization emerge from a troubling situation.

  1. Identify a Team and Leader: Organizations should have a small, nimble team in place to address a crisis. The team should be comprised of organizational leaders, communicators, and legal team members who are authorized to make decisions. The team should be led by an ultimate decision-maker who is empowered to act — and act quickly.
  2. Public Relations Strategy and Legal Strategy Can Co-exist: Done correctly, crisis communications should never jeopardize a legal case. Work quickly with your legal team to reach consensus on language, remembering that winning in court is useless if you’ve lost in the court of public opinion. Failure to handle crisis communications properly might mean there is no organization left to win the legal case.
  3. Facts are Your Friends — Find Them: A crisis communications team needs access to anyone, at any time, within an organization. Facts are specific, platitudes are ignored. Make sure your team is empowered to find the facts you need to state your case, even if that means calling employees in the middle of the night.

In today’s social media age, things move fast. Have a team prepared to work together and move just as fast. When it’s all said and done you can tell people “All I really need to know I learned from pre-kindergarten,” because in a crisis, you’ll need a team that’s ready to work together.

If your organization needs help putting its team together, defining messages and putting an actionable plan into place, contact the experts at Mower. We offer training workshops and create time- and real world–tested crisis plans that can make the difference when it matters most.