Action Stations: The Key Elements of Crisis Management

How’s that phone battery looking? Fully charged?

This question may strike you as a little random, but bear with – you’ll see where this is headed. What we’re really asking you to consider is how your personality affects the way you respond to a potential crisis (and yes, a dead phone battery can count as a crisis of sorts, albeit a first world one).

Are you, for example, the sort of person who is compelled to charge their phone as soon as the battery dips below 50%, or is your panic threshold a more perilous 5%? Do you race to a petrol station the second the low fuel light comes on, or do you gleefully gun it down to your last few kilometres?

If your personality’s the latter, then it’s time to listen up. A response that’s more relaxed than rapid may work for you in your personal life (although as you’d expect from passionate proponents of proactive behaviour, we’d argue that you’re on borrowed time), but it certainly won’t cut it in the workplace.

“What people fail to consider is the potential impact of their inaction,” says PEPworldwide:nz managing director Kathryn Anda. “They tell us that leaving things to the last minute is simply part of their personality. And that may be the case. But I do think they need to be mindful of the unnecessary stress of constantly pushing themselves to the limit. It may only be at a subconscious level, but any unnecessary stress is unhealthy in the long-term.”

What people fail to consider is the potential impact of their inaction.

What’s more, the repercussions of a hands-off rather than head-on approach to trouble brewing can extend well beyond undermining your own wellbeing. A “wait and see” approach to any simmering situation in the workplace rarely ends well. “We often encounter situations where a manager’s reluctance to address an issue has had major ramifications for the company,” observes Anda. “Often, for example, a manager will be aware that a certain employee is not very happy in their role. But if they’re inclined to park the problem rather than tackle it, they run the risk of a resignation.

And, of course, the impact of that is potentially months of lost productivity while that person is replaced and a new employee is brought up to speed. That upheaval could all be avoided with a simple conversation at the first sign of trouble.”

In other words, effective crisis management is not complicated. In fact, it can be summarised in two simple points. So we’ve shared these below for all those of you keen to cut back on pre-Christmas crises (that’s everyone, right?):

Acknowledge your personality’s potential pitfalls.

So living life on the edge is just the way you roll? Fair enough. But be aware that in certain areas – particularly the workplace – that approach is asking for trouble. “In certain situations you are going to have to stop and force yourself to deal with an issue,” says Anda. “Otherwise you are simply increasing stress – not only for yourself, but for your colleagues, too.” If taking it to the limit only impacts you, go ahead! But if it impacts the business? Rein it in, cowboy.

Act on instinct.

Have a sense that something’s not quite right? Then it probably isn’t. “Don’t ignore warning signs,” advises Anda. “Your intuition is powerful – so use it. Catch that stray spark before it turns into an inferno.” Apocalyptic imagery aside, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever regret erring on the side of caution.

So let’s sum up this disposition-driven crash course in crises. Whether you like to teeter on the brink or prefer a spot well back from the edge, a proactive approach to an impending issue equals less stress and better outcomes for your organisation. Now even the most committed crisis-deniers amongst you must recognise the value of this advice. And there’s one last thing to consider. How often do you find yourself saying “I’m so glad I put off dealing with that problem?”