Lesson 1: Stay calm even when those around you are stressingBe fair, firm and unwavering. It’s not your job to be emotional: delegate that to someone else. Your team will only appreciate this later. Be un-distractible and un-influenceable by emotion. It sounds hard but it’s needed to ensure consistency.
Lesson 2: Identify key resourcesIn a crisis you need to identify the key people in your business that can take on important roles. Make it their priority, and clear their decks.
Lesson 3: ALWAYS use data in decision-makingYou should always use data to drive decision-making – and you need to get there quick. For example, in the Boxing Day Tsunami we had a dataset of all travellers we had to locate and we worked single-mindedly to reduce that number to zero. Likewise in the Christchurch earthquakes, we agreed the engineer’s assessment would guide our decisions on staying or going. If we hadn’t been closely monitoring these reports about how many more aftershocks the building could take there would have been serious injuries – even fatalities. Using good data, well, was key in locating tsunami survivors.
Lesson 4: Create clear communication ceremonies and schedules……and stick to them. For example, right now our executive team stands up every morning at 9 am and there’s a staff update at 4 pm. If you need more time, communicate at 4 pm and say ‘it’s delayed, but here’s when you can expect it’. Create logos and branding for your comms, including consistent email subject lines to highlight the urgent stuff and the regular stuff. And use email. Slack and so on are temporary and hard to structure. You should also get all these emails onto an intranet or file store so people can refer back later.
Lesson 5: Keep a daily record of what you do and decideIn a crisis meeting agendas and minutes become crucial. When you make decisions, act as though they can and will be audited later. For example, if you agree to house a staff member whose home has been damaged by an earthquake, then document exactly how much you’ll pay and for how long, as you never know when you might need
Finally, lesson 6: Keep your water topped up
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Article by Greg Roughan in collaboration with our team of inventory management and business specialists. Greg has been writing, publishing and working with content for more than 20 years. His writing motto is ‘don’t be boring’. His outdoors motto is ”I wish I hadn’t brought my headtorch’, said nobody, ever’. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with his family.