Dealing with a crisis: How to build a support network in your workplace

October 30, 2017

Every business – however big or small – face crises from time to time. Becky offers some advice on how to tackle them effectively.

By Becky Mee

Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? Do you think there are two types of problem in the world – those you can do something about and those you can’t? Or do you worry about everything? Whatever approach you take to problems and situations, we can be sure that life comes with equal measures of the rough and the smooth (though we all hope for more smooth than rough!).

In the work arena, businesses can be faced with a variety of challenges requiring us to pull together.

These include:

  • Your usual client deadline crisis, with everyone working their socks off to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat on time.
  • A whistleblowing case.
  • A PR crisis.
  • A financial discovery or liability that puts the company in jeopardy.
  • A business crisis such as a data breach or cyber attack.
  • A security attack like a robbery or an act of terrorism.

For situations like these, you probably have a protocol or policy to follow such as a Crisis Management Plan. If people are trained on what to do and have a clear idea of what is expected of them then it’s all hands-on deck. However, this isn’t always the case and sometimes you’ll find you’re making it up as you go along. In these situations, it’s important to:

  • Identify who your Crisis or Go Team members are.
  • Play to each other’s strengths.
  • Have a clearly assigned role for each person in the team.
  • Establish regular ‘check ins’ for updates and refocusing activity.
  • Communicate clearly.
  • Don’t take it personally if tensions rise and do your best to stay calm.
  • Support each other – if someone is struggling, check in and give them a boost.

But what about when pulling together becomes a necessity due to problems outside of work? This may be needed for a variety of reasons such as:

  • A colleague’s personal problems spilling over into work.
  • The death of a colleague.
  • Local emergencies such as flooding and hurricanes.

Whilst you might have some HR policies that can help you cope with these situations (such as time off for dependants and adverse weather policies), each will be different and so require a slightly different approach. This is also where your business as part of the wider community comes into play.

The recent hurricanes in the Caribbean have seen communities pull together to help and support each other in a real time of crisis. For example, the Governor of Puerto Rico has asked all businesses not to call employees to come into work until it is safe for them to do so. Businesses are looking for ways to help the wider community first.

Pulling together in a situation like this is more about putting others before yourself and remembering no person is an island; we are part of something bigger. It is rallying around, offering help however it may be needed and knowing that even the small gestures can make a big difference.

Whatever the situation, you get through it because of (and sometimes in spite of) the people around you. We all have experiences that can be valuable, no matter how big or small regardless of our position in our company, which can help turn a situation around and ultimately save the day.

If you’d like any help or advice on how to manage crises, just get in touch on 0113 287 8150.

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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