13 Crisis Strategies for Keeping Your Team On Track
What crisis strategies do you use to help your team stay cool?
1. Take Things One Step at a Time
In our case, the crisis usually involves a big change to an assignment that needed to be done yesterday. With so much information coming in and needing to be handled quickly, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The best thing to do is take it one step at a time. Sure there are a hundred things that need to be done, but figure out a game plan and start with the first one.
2. Have Fire Drills in Place
Whenever possible, I try to create “fire drills” for day-to-day tasks. For every business problem I can think of that might come up, I’ve created an easy-to-read playbook, with instructions so simple even a toddler could follow them. I’ve realized that when trouble starts brewing, my team will be on edge — so the solutions are specifically designed for someone in that state.
3. Be Honest and Transparent
Keep the conversation active. It’s important to talk about problems honestly and give your team as much clarification as possible. Have a solution plan in a document format (i.e. Google Doc) and let others read and comment. This builds the trust that’s necessary for the right resolution.
Ivan Tsybaev, Trucker Path, Inc
4. Make Well-Organized To-Do Lists
The key to resolving a crisis is to focus on what needs to be accomplished to resolve the issue. Once the solution becomes clear, it’s important to assign “to do’s” to every team member as quickly as possible. Do your best to stay positive and focus on the solution instead of letting the stress of crisis mode escalate the situation.
5. Build Out and Share Key Messages
Work with your team to make sure they are all on the same page if someone asks them about the situation or crisis. Draft three-to-four key message points for them along with potential FAQs. Prepare a lead spokesperson if anyone from the media calls for comment or sends questions.
6. Remind Them of the Positives
While a crisis is there and must be dealt with, it’s also important to keep the team focused on the positive things that are still there and can help overcome whatever the crisis may be. Keeping those positive things in mind helps as a coping strategy and often reminds us that we can get through whatever is affecting us and the company.
Andrew O’Connor, American Addiction Centers
7. Keep Your Cool
The most effective way to keep everyone cool is to stay cool yourself. People feed off of one another’s energy, and often look to a superior to gauge how to react in times of uncertainty. This isn’t limited to what you say, but stems also from how you look. Body language can be a huge indicator of discomfort. Take a deep breath, calmly address the situation, and others will follow your lead.
8. Be Decisive
The most important thing I learned through all of my Army Officer training is that a leader is needed most in times of crises, and the most important thing you can do is make a decision. It might not end up being the right one, but the most important thing is that you have instilled confidence in your team that you are up for any challenge.
9. Mindmap the Issue
Using a mindmapping program, give your team free reign to brainstorm the problem and potential solutions. Allow everyone to get all of their concerns off the top of their head by putting them on paper. Once the problems are out, the focus can be on brainstorming solutions. Finish the brainstorming session with an actionable plan with goals and deadlines to get you close to the solution.
10. Remove Everyone and Regroup
When issues arise, it is sometimes most productive to remove everyone involved in order to clear your minds and then regroup. For example, in the past we have gone outside to play volleyball together and then were able to go back to the office and discuss how to move forward. I think it is important to avoid jumping on an issue right away and do something non-work-related before resolving it.
11. Bring in Outside Perspectives
In the moment of the crisis, leaders need to act decisively. However, the hardest time for a team can be the weeks and months after a major crisis. To keep the team motivated and pulling together, bring in a speaker who faced a similar issue and have an open discussion about how they handled it. Especially for inexperienced teams, seeing that others faced — and solved — the same issue is helpful.
12. Set Quick and Obtainable Goals
The sooner people stop thinking about the situation and start acting on the solution, the better. Setting up quickly obtainable company goals is a great way to get the process going. Small wins can really keep employees motivated and able to see that there is a way out. The goals should be obtainable in a few days to a week and directly correlate to overcoming the crisis.
13. Listen to Their Concerns
While your first instinct might be to talk and relieve their fears with your words, it actually often helps to just listen to their concerns and show them that you are actively focused on what they are worried about. When they have articulated that, then you can address those specific concerns and shape your answers to help keep them calm.