Crisis Averted: How to Prevent or Respond to Crises at Work

Business leaders today are responding to unexpected crises less often than they did a decade ago, according to a recent Accountemps survey. Forty-nine percent of chief financial officers interviewed said they contend with at least one unexpected crisis a week. This compares to 80 percent of executives who said they dealt with at least one unforeseen crisis a week in a similar survey conducted 10 years ago.

One might think this data is counterintuitive. After all, we hear or read about crises all the time in the news and on social media. But executives today have access to more data than ever before, allowing them to foresee potential problems before they become major catastrophes. Also, executives’ definition of a true crisis might have shifted. What was perceived as a major crisis in 2004 might be seen as a small hiccup by today’s standards.

Still, nearly half of executives will face a crisis at work this week. To help you avoid crises or mitigate the effects when they do occur, follow these five tips:

  1. Plan ahead. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Put plans in place for possible crisis situations and conduct regular “fire drills” so your team knows exactly what to do in the event of an emergency. This will help your staff stay cool-headed when the pressure’s on while also cutting down on response time.

  2. Be proactive. Regularly checking in on critical projects can minimize last-second scrambling. Make sure your team is aligned, on track, and has the necessary resources and information to do their jobs successfully.

  3. Foster transparency. Encourage honest communication among your team, including temporary professionals. Promote smart, strategic risk-taking and create an environment where employees feel comfortable coming to you to admit mistakes or share concerns.

  4. Dig into data. Leveraging data analytics tools can help you identify problems -- and correct course -- earlier than in years past. Work with business analysts to help you spot hurdles on the horizon, such as a sudden decrease in sales.

  5. Evaluate performance. Be reflective and take the time to understand and learn from mistakes. Put key programs and campaigns under the microscope. If an initiative fell short, strive to pinpoint the root cause so you avoid similar problems in the future.

Do you believe there are fewer crises at work today? Why? Please share in the comments below.

Related post: 5 Signs of Low Employee Morale and How to Counteract Them