Council Post: 14 Ways To Build A Solid Crisis Management Strategy (2023)

In business, a crisis lurking right around the corner could hit without warning at any time. Because such events are, by definition, unexpected—often impossible to imagine, much less predict—leaders need to develop solid strategies for quickly responding to any crisis that might arise to ensure that their businesses can survive and continue to thrive.

Crises can come in so many different forms that creating a comprehensive plan to deal with every issue you might encounter isn't a viable option. Fortunately, smart leaders understand how to build a flexible crisis management strategy that can be adapted to meet the needs of swiftly evolving situations.

Here, 14 members of Forbes Coaches Councildiscuss steps you can take to design and implement an effective crisis management strategy for your company.

1. Learn Resilience And Accept Vulnerability

To overcome a crisis, leaders need to be agile and learn resilience. This includes making difficult decisions with limited information and being prepared to lead through the outcomes that arise based on these quick decisions. Gaining the confidence to lead your organization and team will be imperative. Embracing vulnerability is also essential, as you must recognize that not all decisions will lead to the desired outcome. -Reena Sharma,Agilis Executive Consulting

2. Practice A 'What Would Happen If...' Exercise

Preparation is key. When I was in a former airline role, our crisis management strategy was to not only document our plans, but also prepare for crisis or disaster by practicing a "what would happen if..." exercise. For a business, that may mean ensuring a pipeline for succession, acknowledging that, as important as process is, people matter even more. During a crisis, act quickly, reassure the team and do what is right, even if it's not easy. -Denise Russo,SAP



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3. Change According To The Times And Your People

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Business leaders need to acknowledge that crisis management affects everyone in the company. When developing a strategy, it is important to understand the times you are in and the people you serve. The strategy cannot be based on a situation that occurred 20 years ago because business personalities and the makeup of companies have changed, and so should the approach. -Tonya Fairley,TS Fairley Leadership and Personal Development Co

4. Form A Crisis Management Team

Form a crisis management team made up of stakeholders from various departments, product lines and locations. Include someone gifted in communications, an IT leader, someone representing your talent and someone close to your clients. Gather that group to brainstorm a list of potential crises you may face. Then, prioritize those to identify the most likely crises this group should plan for first. -Jennifer Wilson,ConvergenceCoaching, LLC

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5. Identify Your Key Risks

The primary step toward developing a solid crisis management strategy is determining where you are at risk. In today's environment, the way we conduct business has introduced a far greater field of risk, but it's also brought more options. If you know your key risks, you can create a solid strategy that will keep you in business and out of long-term recovery. -Kathi Laughman,The Mackenzie Circle LLC

6. Prioritize A 'Crisis Focus' With The Team

Meet with your team to create a "crisis focus." Leaders typically juggle too much, and a crisis sucks up attention and resources. This causes balls to drop. Decide what your priority needs to be throughout the crisis. Keep it in line with your long-term vision and values. Identify what balls you will drop or set down and how. Clarify the steps needed to accomplish your priority objectives. -Christian Muntean,Vantage Consulting

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7. Forget Traditional Hierarchical Barriers

Rip up the organizational chart and remove traditional hierarchical barriers. Pull in the leaders with the knowledge, experience and passion for the work that needs to be done, regardless of their titles or roles. Then, create a flexible strategy that empowers everyone to do what needs to be done to address the crisis. -Tonya Echols,Vigere

8. Outsource The Development Of A Framework

Outsource the creation of a crisis management framework to experts in the field. This is not your company's core competency. Invest in a framework and a plan, and then get your organization's input. Your teams can provide more detail, identify more potential crises, and help ensure that the plan will meet all stakeholders' needs. Finally, task an internal team with rolling the plan out to all levels of personnel in the company. Be sure to update the plan annually. -Dana Manciagli,Job Search Master Class

9. Plan On Adjusting To Many Unknowns

A solid crisis management plan needs to cover many dimensions. Ensure that you are evaluating critical infrastructure needs, process impacts and people impacts. Recognize that you cannot plan for everything. A good plan includes monitoring how the crisis itself shifts, and then replanning as details are uncovered. It's not just about the actions you'll take, but also how you plan to adjust to myriad unknowns. -Faith Fuqua-Purvis,Synergetic Solutions LLC

10. Document Processes And Do Drills

Asking tough questions to see what is on the other side of the mountain is essential. Ask yourself about every possible pitfall, problem and detour that can (and will) happen, and then plan for them. Document workflows and processes, role play and do spontaneous drills involving a variety of team members who will take on different lead roles in the crisis to boost their problem-solving momentum and critical thinking. -Shelley Smith,Premier Rapport

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11. Work Backward On A Plan To Fail

Define everything you need to fail. Then, determine with your people what's needed to avoid those things that would lead you to fail and work backward. Then, move forward into actions to avoid failure. Watch how your people's creativity helps your efforts soar to success. Then, watch how your team comes together as a result! -Jay Steven Levin,WinThinking

12. Share A Communication Plan With All Teams

Creating a solid communication plan that clearly identifies the team members involved and their roles is one of the most important steps to take in crisis management. This plan should be integrated into an overall contingency plan, and it should be shared with all team members. The desired outcome happens so much faster when you focus on finding effective solutions. -Izabela Lundberg,Legacy Leaders Institute

13. Take Responsibility For Any Crisis

Take responsibility for any crisis that is happening, could happen or might happen. Procrastination and neglect will be costly. Developing a crisis management strategy involves research to inform preparations, leadership and team building to ensure responsiveness and resiliency, and systems and processes to implement the strategy and maximize talents. -Lori Harris,Harris Whitesell Consulting

14. Stress-Test Your Strategy Regularly

A solid crisis management strategy should be stress-tested at least once a year. Have organizational leaders and/or a crisis team review the strategy by conducting a "fire drill" to spot any gaps in the plan. Also, ensure that all new employees, managers and leaders are trained on the key components of the crisis management plan you put in place. They should understand what their roles will be in the case of a business disruption. -Karan Rhodes,Shockingly Different Leadership

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Council Post: 14 Ways To Build A Solid Crisis Management Strategy? ›

Protect the organization's reputation. Evaluate contingency plans. Provide leadership when you set a course of action. Communicate with key stakeholders (including the media, if appropriate).

What are the 4 key strategies of crisis management? ›

Protect the organization's reputation. Evaluate contingency plans. Provide leadership when you set a course of action. Communicate with key stakeholders (including the media, if appropriate).

What are the 5 steps of crisis management plan? ›

Prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are the five steps of Emergency Management.

What are the methods of crisis management? ›

Four Phases of Crisis Management
  • Mitigation.
  • Preparedness.
  • Response.
  • Recovery.
Oct 6, 2020

What are the 4 C's of crisis? ›

One straightforward way to approach a crisis is to follow the 4 C's – cooperation, containment, control and cauterise.

What are the three C's of crisis management? ›

During a crisis, effective spokespersons must heed what I call the “Three C's of Credibility.” If stakeholders perceive you as Compassionate, Competent and Confident, they are far more likely to believe your messages.

What are the 5 essential elements of crisis management? ›

The five steps for drafting a crisis management plan are ground rules and risk assessment; business impact analysis; response and contingency planning; training and coordination; and review.

What are the 9 basic strategies of crisis intervention? ›

These nine crisis intervention strategies include creating awareness, allowing catharsis, providing support, promoting expansion, emphasizing focus, providing guidance, promoting mobilization, implementing order and providing protection and are based on the triage assessment the crisis worker makes upon initial contact ...

What are the 10 elements of crisis management plan? ›

The Key Elements of a Crisis Management Plan
  • Planning scenarios. ...
  • Flexible responses. ...
  • Activation guidelines. ...
  • Crisis response teams and designated chain of command. ...
  • Pre-approved communication strategy and messaging. ...
  • Regular simulation exercises. ...
  • Post-crisis review.

What are the golden rules in crisis management? ›

Stick to the three C's.

Concern, Control and Commitment. Let people know that you are concerned about the situation and those affected by it. Show that your company is in control and is doing everything possible to address, contain or repair the problem.

What are the four 4 goals of crisis intervention? ›

Identifying the main problems, including what precipitated the crisis. Reducing the intensity of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors related to the crisis. Fostering the return of pre-crisis functioning. Teaching emotional self-regulation.

What are the six principles of crisis management? ›

You can help your organization and your community prepare for, respond to, and recover from an emergency by using CERC's six main principles:2 be first, be right, be credible, express empathy, promote action, and show respect.

What is the best style of crisis management? ›

One of the best leadership styles for managing an external crisis is transformational. Transformational leaders see the bigger picture to better understand the extent of the crisis before executing the response.

What is the first rule of crisis management? ›

Communicate, communicate, communicate

The first rule of crisis management is to communicate. Early hours are critical and they set the tone for the duration of the crisis. Be as open as possible; tell what you know and when you became aware of it; explain who is involved and what is being done to fix the situation.

What is the six step model of crisis? ›

Gilliland and James present a six-step model that gives students and practitioners a systematic way of dealing with people in crisis: Defining the Problem; Ensuring Client Safety; Providing Support; Examining Alternatives; Making Plans; and Obtaining Commitment.

What are the 4 R's of crisis communication? ›

There are four steps key to navigating an emerging crisis, four Rs: Recognise, Respond, Regret, Remediate.

What are the 4 most important skills leaders must have during a crisis? ›

Seven Essential Skills for Effective Crisis Management
  • Situational Awareness.
  • Improvisation.
  • Creativity & Adaptability.
  • Decisiveness.
  • Action.
  • Communication.
  • Reevaluation.

What is the ABCD model of crisis intervention? ›

A number of crisis intervention models use this same three step process. Essentially, it involves establishing a relationship (A), understanding the problem (B), and taking action (C). This model uses Achieving Rapport, Boiling down the Problem and Contracting for Action.

What are the first 3 goals of crisis intervention? ›

A helper's primary goals in a crisis are to identify, assess, and intervene; to return the indi- vidual to his/her prior level of functioning as quickly as possible; and to lessen any negative impact on future men- tal health.

What is the cardinal rule of crisis management? ›

The cardinal rule of risk communication is the same as that for emergency medicine: first do no harm. A threatening or actual crisis often involves a volatile combination of public action and reaction.

What not to do in a crisis situation? ›

6 Crisis Management Mistakes to Avoid
  • Publicly ignoring the situation or delaying acknowledgement of a crisis. ...
  • Being insincere. ...
  • Avoiding the subject matter with your team and investors. ...
  • Not publicly documenting the crisis and your response from the beginning. ...
  • Losing touch with the affected customer base.
Aug 10, 2011

What is the Safe R model? ›

SAFER-R is a common intervention model used, which consists of stabilization, acknowledgment, facilitate understanding, encouragement, recovery, and referral. SAFER-R helps patients return to their mental baseline following a crisis.

What are the three elements of crisis planning? ›

The process includes action in the areas: crisis prevention, solving and termination. Basic definitions are included in the introductory part of a crisis plan.

What are the three phases of effective crisis management? ›

In order to create a comprehensive plan quickly and efficiently, it's important to understand the three phases of this concept – pre-crisis, crisis management strategy, and post-crisis – separately.

What is the most effective leadership skill in a crisis? ›


In fact, communication is arguably the most important crisis management (and leadership) skill to have.

What makes a good crisis manager? ›

Critical thinking skills are essential, as are strong leadership and interpersonal skills. You will have to motivate employees to take action during difficult times and keep them calm enough to be effective.

What are the 9 strategies of crisis intervention? ›

James and Gilliland outline the nine crisis intervention strategies in their book Crisis Intervention Strategies (creating awareness, allowing catharsis, providing support, promoting expansion, emphasizing focus, providing guidance, promoting mobilization, implementing order and providing protection), which are ...

What are the C's of crisis communication? ›

I call these the 5Cs of Crisis Communications: Care, Commitment, Competency, Community, and Continuity.

What are the 10 elements of crisis management? ›

An effective crisis management plan has 10 essential elements. These include a risk analysis, an activation protocol, a chain of command, a command center plan, response action plans, internal and external communication programs, resources, training, and a review.


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