Crisis Management is defined as the process by which the organization deals with a sudden emergency situation.
The best of best organizations fail to avoid crisis and in spite of the advancements in all fields of management, technology and analytics companies big and small are mustering their efforts in managing crisis and surviving them.
The new age corporate world is a highly sophisticated place using advanced technology and systems and procedures. In-spite of these due to external or internal changes in the environment companies are facing crisis and left to manage the same.
In such times HR can play a pivotal role in facilitation by resolving or managing the crisis and overcoming the challenges. The ability and speed of an organization to manage the crisis well and overcome the challenges makes or breaks the future of the company.
Take the recent example of Mobile Phone Leader Samsung who faced a huge crisis when their latest version was hacked and millions of customers worldwide had the threat of losing their personal data to hackers. Samsung quickly responded to the situation by asking all customers to switch off their phones. Of course the customers wouldn’t be happy with this solution. But at least it avoided any further damage to the customer data. Samsung now has to earn its reputation back and also the confidence of the large list of disappointed customers.
Five actions HR can take that will help the organizations in managing crisis well are as follows:
1.Build a Responsive Culture ( rather than reactive)
HR plays a key role in building the culture of the organization and also constantly developing the same. It’s important to create the DNA of the organization in such a way the employees, managers across levels are habituated to responding to a situation instead of reacting to it. A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. A response is thought out, calm and non-threatening. Therefore when the organization learns to respond, chances are it is more constructive and likely to resolve the crisis.
2.Enthuse Positive energy and “Can do” Attitude in the work place
We often see teams involved in sports achieving the unimaginable. We see the best of teams and players under crisis situations. Only those with mental toughness, positive and can do attitude are able to come of victorious.HR can create and encourage such an environment by recognizing such behavior at the work place, having guest lectures for employees and also showing inspirations movies or videos
3.Provide simulated situations to supervisors / managers and leaders at all levels to resolve different kinds of challenges
They say practice makes a man perfect. Also habits die hard. Simulated situations, case studies, group discussions are some fun ways by which HR can team up with the Learning and Development team to create programs for employees on this theme
Crisis management requires certain skills and it’s important to have a scientific method to foresee as many such situations that may or may not occur in the future and prepare teams to manage and resolve the same as a habit.
4.Evolve as a Hero or be the flag bearer in extreme situations
In extreme situations where the organization as a whole is being impacted or under pressure it’s the highest responsibility of the HR leaders to play the hero or flag bearer. Examples are: An unwelcome decision by the management or a sudden change in company policies or pay structure. At such times it’s extremely important that HR emerges as the Hero by walking the thin line between the management and employees and facilitating healthy dialogue and also resolution of the problem in the best possible way.
5.Reassure, Communicate and share lessons learnt at the end of it all
Grapevine and gossip can all add fuel to the fire and press the panic button for all.
Example rumors on the company being acquired by a competitor or disruption in the industry by a new company or technology. At such time, HR needs to disseminate the true information, give reassurance to employees and communicate adequately via town halls, staff meetings, company portals, emails and more. They can help avoid getting the crisis situation out of hand. Instead work on mitigating the risks and issues and also overcoming the problems. After the happy ending, HR should never forget to reflect and share on the lessons shared. As who knows..There may be a new crisis just round the corner!!!!!!!!
Remember the organization mirrors HR. Therefore it makes all the difference how HR manages its day to day priorities, is process driven, positive, responsive and builds an environment that is ready to innovate, manage crisis and continue to grow.