Crisis Management Teams Should Be Structured for Resilience. With a Solid Team Structure in Place, Ongoing Training and Regular Exercises You Can Achieve Optimal Crisis Preparedness.
Here are five requirements that should be considered when developing and maintaining an efficient Crisis Management Team capability and overall readiness.
1. The Crisis Management Team —
Should Have Structure
It’s almost impossible to have any chance of maneuvering through a crisis successfully without having a Crisis Management Team based on a sound structure. Structuring the team is part of the overall crisis planning process, and the structure must relate to how your specific organization is set up. Nonetheless there are key roles that are common to most team structures. For example, every plan needs to identify the crisis team’s leader. The team’s leader, often the CEO, but not always, will be the final decision maker during a crisis. Other key roles commonly seen within a corporate crisis management team are leaders from Legal, HR, Communications, Operations, I.T., Marketing & Sales, Security (or HSE) and Facilities. In addition, all organizations will have to ask themselves what other roles might need to be included that are specific to their particular environment? You’ll also want to identify specific subject matter experts, perhaps outside consultants, who could be quickly added to the team when necessary for the crisis at hand. Very importantly, each primary role must have a clearly designated backup.
2. The Crisis Management Team –
Should Have The Authority To Make Decisions And Have Expectations Of Support
In some organizations, the CEO does not head the team, and top leadership does not provide decision-making authority to the Crisis Management Team. This is a mistake as it could cause inefficiency and confusion. Team members in this situation will be less inclined to make critical decisions and take quick actions when they don’t immediately know that they have the backing of the organization’s top leadership whom they represent. To be fully effective, the buck needs to stop with the head of the crisis team.
3. The Crisis Management Team –
Should Be Given The Appropriate Oversight With Relevant Checks And Balances Aimed At Continual Improvement
Most well-refined processes include regular inspections that check, regulate and improve performance. For crisis management, one of the process inspections should be an annual appraisal of the plan and the team. This will include review of the team’s structure, with attention paid to each team member’s trained and exercised backup. Appraisal may also include re-validation of training procedures as well as reviewing and acting upon the results of exercises and their documented records. Do you know where your previous exercise reports are, and have all critical and agreed-upon gaps from the previous report been corrected? It is all about continual improvement.
4. The Crisis Management Team —
Should Be Resilient: Primary & Backup Members
We find that all too often there will be only one primary leader heading the crisis management team with no designated backup. Sometimes this is a simple oversight in terms of nominating a backup, and sometimes leaders do not trust anyone to replace them. Either way, it is critical to have a backup who is trained and tested for that all-important leadership position, just as backups are critical for every other team role. Backups are the backbone of team resilience.
5. The Crisis Management Team –
Should Have The Relevant Skills, Knowledge And Experience (Train And Exercise)
During a crisis, your organization’s preparedness will be challenged. This is when you will find that your commitment to ongoing Training and Exercises has paid off. If you have a regular T&E program, it will certainly benefit the organization and those responsible for implementing the various plans during a crisis.
Experienced crisis management team members can also really help the overall effort during an incident. Those team members who have been through past crises should be able to utilize their experiences to better inform the current response. If you have been on a response team at some point in your career, you are an asset to the organization even if you are not currently on the team. Try to get involved and support the team. The crisis coordinator or other team members should actively try to find out what experiences there are within the organization that can help raise the team’s knowledge base and capabilities.
Team structures may necessarily differ from one organization to another, but all effective teams hold these things in common: a team leader who is the final decision maker; trained backups for every role on the team; and a regularly scheduled system of plan reviews, exercises and training for continuous improvement. When joined together, these elements are the only way to reach the highest level of preparedness.