Developing a Comprehensive Crisis Management Report Audit

Crisis management is how an organisation responds to adverse and unexpected events, with a focus on seeking to minimise financial and reputational damage. In a crisis situation, it always helps to have direction and clear guidelines to follow, whether you’re the CEO or an entry-level employee. Typically, there is very little time to labour over decisions so you want to have a clear plan of action. That’s where a crisis management audit report becomes crucial.

What causes a crisis?

In today’s relatively unstable world and markets, companies must seriously assess whether or not they are prepared to handle unforeseen negative events. Organisations of any size and sector can be affected. The death of a team member, damage to the workplace through fire or flooding, a criminal attack- these can happen to anyone, irrespective of their annual turnover or number of employees.

Crises can have both internal and external causes, including employee incompetence, natural disasters and political change. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realise they need a crisis management plan until it’s too late. Those that do act and make thorough preparations tend to do so after seeing the impact of a crisis on someone else. This could be a competitor, supplier, client or just a struggling company that they’ve seen on the news.

What is a crisis management audit report?

To assess whether your company is able to handle a crisis, you need to create a crisis management audit report. This will detail individual and team responsibilities both during and immediately following a crisis, with guidelines on how to communicate decisions externally. It will also highlight areas of weakness within your current strategy, prompting you to consider further staff training.

We firmly believe that it is worth you investing time, energy and money at this early stage to mitigate the damage should a crisis occur. You may get lucky and never have to implement your crisis management strategy, but as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

A crisis management audit is essentially a type of pressure testing. It’s about exposing your personal and institutional weaknesses and making improvements. The starting point of most crisis management audits will be an examination of the overall sufficiency of your existing crisis management plans and training.

Areas of consideration

Individual team members should be assessed on their knowledge of your current strategy and whether or not they have the skills, training and tools to carry out their assigned responsibilities. For example, high-level executives should be assessed on their public communication skills, ready to face the media and their probing questions.

As well as looking at individual ability, you also need to examine the team as a whole. It is in times of great pressure and scrutiny that any cracks in a team widen, lowering company morale, reducing productivity and efficiency, and prolonging the crisis. If you’re going to successfully weather the storm, employees need to have full confidence in each other and a strong ability to work cohesively.

Risk analysis should be performed to assess the likelihood of certain events occurring and what the best and worst possible outcomes could be. Depending on the nature of an organisation’s work and the sector or location in which it operates, it is more likely to experience particular hazards. These could include:

  • Vulnerability to natural disasters e.g. fire, flooding, strong winds
  • Boycotts or protests e.g. animal welfare concerns in the agricultural sector
  • Cyber-security e.g. hackers stealing and holding to ransom customer data
  • Travelling employees e.g. awareness of dangers at their destination
  • Terrorism e.g. hostage-taking at energy plants

It is important that you remember to consider any emerging issues, as well as longstanding ones.

Time is critical in a crisis situation. Failure to acknowledge the problem, accept responsibility and communicate your solution will lead to lasting reputational damage. Simply hoping that no one will notice that something is wrong rarely works out well and ultimately, inaction will become a point of criticism. A crisis management audit report should empower you to make swift decisions by giving you a template to work from.

A crisis management audit report is not a static document. As the world around us changes, so will the potential risks to your business. For example, who could have predicted the enormous influence of social media 15 years ago? Previously, it was the media who asked the awkward questions of a company during a crisis. Nowadays, an organisation has to answer directly to its customers on social media. You will need to develop a PR strategy specifically for social channels.

The conclusion of any crisis management audit report should contain a clear set of next steps for individuals, teams and the entire company to complete.

 


6 Group is a leader in conducting crisis response testing and holds an extensive track record of producing invaluable crisis management audit reports. We have worked with Fortune 500 companies to help prepare them for all eventualities.

If you would like a discussion about how we can support you crisis management activities, get in touch using the contact form below.

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