Your corporate culture directly impacts your organization’s crisis management
Successful crisis management has a lot to do with an organization’s corporate culture and the mindset it instils in its team members. In other words, the way you choose to look at risk directly impacts the way you respond to risk and the way you overcome it – or not!
For example, an organization that has a corporate culture of “no comment” – and thus a mindset of no comment – will inevitably resist communication for as long as possible in a crisis. Whereas an organization that embraces communication and has taken the necessary preparatory steps to ensure effective crisis communications, will instinctively embrace the opportunity to connect with its stakeholders when times get tough.
The same goes for issues management. Any organization that faces a negative issue can choose to see it one of two ways: as a nuisance or as an opportunity. Now just because an organization sees an issue as a nuisance, doesn’t mean they won’t take the necessary actions to manage it accordingly. However, the organizations that see issues management as an opportunity will, more often than not, go the extra mile to turn it into one – and will reap the rewards of doing so.
Chevy embraces issues management
The Red Cross was a great and well known example of this a few years back. More recently, Chevy Trucks did a phenomenal job at embracing an embarrassing moment and transforming it into a PR campaign that had social media and national talkshows positively buzzing about the brand. Take a look:
Now this incident would not have resulted in a crisis for the organization, so they could have otherwise ignored it, waited out the mockery and moved on with their business. But it’s in Chevy’s choice to embrace this incident as an opportunity to connect with their stakeholders and show a more personable side of the brand, that completely transformed it from a PR blunder to a positive, viral campaign that generated over $5 million in earned media.
Embedding the right corporate culture for successful crisis management
As I said at the start of this post, your organization’s corporate culture and the mindset you instil in your employees, will have a direct impact on your ability to successfully manage issues and crises. As a quick check list, in my experience working with dozens of large organizations, the ones that are the most prepared to successfully manage crises are the ones that:
- Make issues management an integral part of their corporate culture (Click here to learn more)
- Instil a mindset that instinctively finds the positive opportunities within negative incidents
- Are always focused on finding ways to build and strengthen trust with their stakeholders
- Train and then empower their employees to act fast in times of negative incidents
- Are prepared with a scalable and dynamic crisis preparedness program
- Embrace change, and are thus flexible and adaptable in continuing to find ways to meet stakeholders’ ever-expanding expectations
In crisis management, as in life, our mindset shapes the outcome. The work you’re willing to put into your crisis preparedness, employee training and issues management now, before a crisis strikes, will directly impact your instinctive ability to successfully manage crises in the heat of the moment.
Simple next steps to take
It’s not easy to change a corporate culture that has been working a certain way for several years, and sometimes several decades. It’s not a task that can be accomplished overnight. But instilling this type of mindset is in fact a choice and requires action and commitment. Employing the right management team who shares in this vision and sense of reality and necessity is one of the first steps. From there, it’s about choosing to take one small step in the right direction each and every day.
Following is a process that I have found to work with my clients who are ready and committed to embed the right corporate culture over the long-term:
- Sit down with your management team and discuss the above 6 characteristics I’ve identified. Ask yourselves honestly which ones your organization has excelled at and which ones could use improvement.
- From there, outline some strategies and actions that can be taken to begin to instil the right mindset, train your team, develop a crisis preparedness program – whatever your needs may be – and make a plan of action for implementation.
Realistically and depending on your organization, this plan may be one that needs to be implemented over the next few years. But the point is to begin to take the steps now. For example, if yours is an organization that has not yet developed a comprehensive crisis preparedness program, you can’t expect this to be done overnight. But you can begin to get buy-in and approval, to allocate budget, and to find the right crisis management consultant to work with.
In addition to the long-term steps, there are simpler steps that can be taken simultaneously on a day to day basis with your team. Steps that encourage the right mindset and that foster instinctive issues management skills. For example, are team members rewarded for taking initiatives to enrich the relationships you share with your stakeholders? Are they empowered to take actions that further develop trust and loyalty?
Your organization’s corporate culture directly impacts your crisis management success or failure. Choose to begin embedding the right corporate culture now and, before long, you’ll be ready to successfully manage any storm that may come your way.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.