Proud of your crisis response?

On March 4, 2016

Every day we make choices about what we do and what we say. We live with the impact of the choices we make. It’s the same during a crisis.

Two recent and similar incidents caused me to reflect on the choices two companies made and the impacts on their business. People died or were injured as a result of the incident.

Let’s call the two companies A and B. Company A prepares a brief statement with the focus ‘It’s not our fault. We have done everything we were required to do by law and were not responsible for the incident.’ In fact, this was true for both incidents. Thankfully for the company, this statement was not needed.

However, the company could have made a number of other choices:

– Express sympathy in the statement, released on not released
– Visit the people in hospital
– Post a comment on their website with a message of sympathy
– Provide an update to staff so they learn about the incident from the company not through the media
– Develop some Q&A’s in case people called for more information
– Send an email to suppliers to give them an update
– Provide counselling for staff if required

And the list could go on.

In stark contrast, Company B did most of the above, all within 45 minutes of the incident occurring.

On reflection, Company A said ‘There has been no negative impact on our company’ and were pleased they had avoided the spotlight. Company B said ‘We are proud of the way we responded’. Whilst the incident had no negative impact on immediate company performance, Company A missed an opportunity to demonstrate company values during a crisis. On the other hand, staff and other stakeholders from Company B were more engaged with the organisation as they felt the company could be trusted to live by its values.

On both occasions, neither company became the focus of the spotlight. But had the spotlight focused on them, would they be proud of what people saw. If it was my company, when the spotlight shines, I would want to be standing in the circle of Company B, every time.

By David Hawkins