Trying to Manage a Crisis and Crisis Response Team Without Any Skills and Limited Knowledge is Dangerous to You and Your Organization. But Good Quality Crisis Management Training is Available and Should Be Your First Step in Becoming a Successful Crisis Management Professional.
Get Qualified to Lead With Crisis Management Training
Why would a company’s senior management pick a person to create a crisis plan and help lead a crisis response team when that person never had any crisis management training? If you were that appointee, wouldn’t it be obvious to you that without any training in crisis management you could actually increase your organization’s risk? Your missteps could worsen and prolong a crisis. Yet, unfortunately, this is a common course of action by many organizations: appointing someone who’s not qualified to take the lead in crisis preparedness and management.
If you’ve read this far you’re probably a person concerned about crisis preparedness. The good news is that good quality crisis management training is available, and you should seek it out. It’s the first step in becoming a successful crisis management professional.
Well-led organizations will insist on having people professionally trained and accredited in crisis management. However, if your organization is not aware of this training, you might want to inform them. Lobby management to get you the training you need to enhance your professional credentials so you can help ensure that your organization is crisis ready.
Increase in Crises Driving Demand for More Crisis Management Training
The growing trend in crisis management courses comes from the fact that organizations of all types, for-profit, non-profit, schools, churches, government offices, etc., are having to face increasing numbers of crises. Today’s organizations face an onslaught of new or newly recognized threats, everything from cybercrime to active shooters; from sexual harassment charges to terrorism. A major factor behind the increase in crises is social media. Any crisis management course worth its salt will teach about the central role of social media today in both fomenting crises and in managing them.
Social Media Should be a Major Focus in Crisis Management Training
When choosing a course in crisis management it’s important to know in advance that social media would be a key aspect of your training. After all, many crises begin and metastasize on social media. Think of cell-phone videos going viral of American Airlines security people dragging a customer off a plane; or the cell phone videos and Twitter storms documenting a racially charged incident in a Starbucks. But it doesn’t have to be a social media-induced crisis. Almost all crises will have a large social media component that, if not well managed, will intensify the crisis.
Social media has changed the very paradigm of how organizations even find out that they’re in a crisis. Before social media existed it was typically the company that was first to realize it had a crisis on its hands. Say, for example, a railroad company’s tank car overturns and leaks a toxic chemical putting a nearby community in harm’s way. The train engineer would inform the company, which would, with the help of local first responders then gather facts and communicate outward to the media, to the community, to elected officials, etc. about the crisis.
Contrast that scenario with what often happens today because of social media. Video taken by a person of the leaking tank car would go viral through Facebook or Twitter and be viewed by thousands of people, people now fired up to disparage the railroad company on various social media sites. And all this before the company itself even finds out about the accident. Not only are crises happening more often, in large part because or social media, managing the crisis is even more challenging because of the wild west world of social media, where so many emotionally charged people are inclined to shoot first and aim, maybe never. That’s why when choosing a crisis management training course, you’ll want a strong social media component.
Skills to be Gained from Crisis Management Training
In addition to having a strong social media component, here are some of the other skills you should seek from Crisis Management Training:
- How to know if an incident actually is a crisis.
- How to gauge the severity of a crisis so your organization’s responses are proportional.
- How to identify vulnerabilities and what strategies would work to reduce or eliminate those vulnerabilities.
- How to write a crisis plan.
- How to organize a crisis response team.
- How to organize a crisis “war room.”
- How to form a working relationship with the CEO on crisis preparedness to make crisis preparedness a prioritized part of the company’s culture.
- How to arrive at a decision-making process customized to suit your organization.
- How to manage crisis communications that are a core element of crisis management.
- How to monitor and engage with social media as well as traditional news media during a crisis.
- How to cultivate relationships with respected third parties who could support you in a crisis.
Organizations like PreparedEx have long been offering crisis management courses. So do the Business Continuity Institute and Continuity Insights. Study their curricula and see which one is right for you.
After you’ve taken the course that gave you the skills you needed to create a crisis plan and organize a crisis response team, you’re not finished. You’ll have three other tasks you’ll need to take on to maximize your organization’s preparedness:
- Conduct a crisis exercise. Once you have a plan and a response team in place, they both need to be tested and validated regularly, at least once a year. The testing is done through a table-top exercise (TTX) that realistically simulates a crisis. You simply cannot consider your organization to be fully prepared for a crisis if you’ve never tested your plan with a TTX, either by conducting one yourself (yes, there are courses available to do this), or by bringing in an outside consultant that specializes in creating and running crisis simulation exercises.
- Equip your employees. Train your employees to be part of the crisis early-warning system of the organization so they know how to spot a potential or actual crisis and how to report it. Crisis preparedness needs to be communicated from the top down and made an important part of your organization’s culture.
- Build your brand. You have to nurture your brand or reputation. A strong brand/reputation is like protective armor – it won’t necessarily prevent a crisis, but it will definitely lessen the blow. It’s beyond the scope of this article to get into the nitty gritty of building a strong brand as a protective armor against crises. It takes a lot of time and effort. But suffice it is to say that strong, well-cultivated brands are far better able to stave off crises and manage them when they occur. Stakeholders for a strong brand — employees, customers, community members, suppliers, shareholders, even regulators and elected officials — are already well-disposed toward your organization and will tend to be far more supportive when a crisis occurs.
One good resource for exploring crisis management courses and keeping your skills up to date is through the International Crisis Management Conference (ICMC), an online community of the world’s leading crisis management professionals. ICMC offers a one-day crisis management course and many other resources. Most importantly, the professional crisis managers of ICMC keep each other current on all things crisis management, so becoming a member of ICMC will keep your crisis management skills sharp long after you’ve taken a crisis management course.