There are many reasons a Crisis Management Team can underperform during a crisis, and in this short article I will cover some of the more common mistakes or issues based on our many years of experience in this field and on our research into the many corporate crises that happen all too often.

1 – Absence of Situational Awareness

In every crisis, there is always an overwhelming amount of information that the CMT (Crisis Management Team) must process. If the team does not understand how to manage the information and make sense of it, they will not be able to create good situational awareness and may quickly lose control of the situation. The absence of good situational awareness is often due to the crisis team’s inability to manage and process the data and share what is relevant at the right time. Too often we hear teams starting to discuss irrelevant logistical details as the fire grows bigger.

2 – An Undisciplined Briefing Cycle

I have written about the disciplined briefing cycle in a separate blog which you can access here. The briefing cycle will often make or break you as a leader. If the briefing cycle is undisciplined it will often create more chaos and possibly lead to the lack of trust both internally and eventually externally with key stakeholders. It is imperative that the leaders take control of the situation from the very first initial briefing. They need to ensure the meetings are not too long and that they cover the essential components of that period of the crisis. A good leader will depend on a reliable crisis coordinator to ensure the briefing cycle is disciplined throughout.

3 – Not Understanding Roles and Responsibilities

It is too late for an organization to start to figure out who’s responsible for what in the middle of a crisis. If you haven’t planned this out during planning sessions and simulation exercises, then it’s probably too late. Having clear lines of ownership pre-determined will save an enormous amount time, and it will also enable those owners to create their pre-determined responses to some of the challenges that they may face.

4 – Weak Leadership

How is it we still hear about organizations with leaders who are not present or take a back seat during a crisis? An organization will be scrutinized and judged on its ability to manage a crisis, so the leader must be front and center throughout the incident. From making critical decisions to communicating with some financial and other key stakeholders such as the Board of Directors, the leader must be prepared to take on the stressful challenges that he or she is presented. Leaders who have previously experienced crises or those who have been well trained and rehearsed through exercises will be the ones who are much more likely to successfully manage a crisis.


Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding corporate crisis management.