Despite our best efforts, all companies go through times of stress and crisis. Whether it’s a lawsuit, loss of staff, or someone dropping the ball, crises impact not only our staff but our productivity and bottom line. While some may be outside our control, such a load shedding, or new company policies, a recent survey showed that 95% of crises at work are preventable (Bernstein Crisis Management). So why do we so often find ourselves in times of crisis? The answer is because we tend to take action only when something is breaking, rather than being proactive about crisis management, and potentially preventing crises (within our control) from happening at all.

So How Do We Become Proactive about Crisis Management?

There are three steps to effectively preventing a crisis at work. Each one requires you to be committed to the process, putting effort into prevention rather than cure. However, the time, energy, and effort you put into being proactive about crisis management can ensure that you have a smoother organisation in the long term.

Step 1: Review Your Past

What many organisations tend to do is manage a crisis in the moment, and then breathe a sigh of relief when it’s over; grateful to have things “back to normal”. However, what a lot of them are missing is the powerful opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Taking the time to review the crisis and unpack what led you there is an essential part of being proactive about crisis management for the future. You can choose to have an executive meeting, individual interviews, or do an anonymous survey, but involving the relevant staff and reviewing how the crisis happened is an invaluable process. The following questions can help you guide the process:

  • What facts do we have about the situation?
  • Who was involved?
  • What was the process, and where are the weaknesses?
  • What could we have done differently?
  • What steps can be taken now to prevent this from ever happening again? Who needs to be involved to ensure this strategy works?

Step 2: Stay Committed

Whether you decide to change a system, a method of communication, or an individual’s role, it’s essential to follow through on the information gathered in Step 1. Unfortunately, what tends to happen in many organisations is that we become busy with daily operations and we don’t implement and commit to the changes needed to prevent future crises. This leads to mistrust of employees in the organisation because it looks like you don’t “walk the talk”. This in turn can reduce team morale and lead to a worse spin-off effect than before the crisis happened.

One effective strategy to staying committed to being proactive about crisis management is to choose a voluntary task team. This team will be responsible for implementing the necessary changes, and reporting back to management on a regular basis.

Step 3: Invest the time

The final step to being proactive about crisis management is about investing the time to ensure that your culture and values are infused into every employee, rather than just being a poster on the wall. As mentioned above, 95% of crises are preventable, and in many cases, this is due to either a lack of a realised organisational culture, or the lack of relevant information filtering through the organisation to the relevant people. Many employees will hold on to precious information about their role, and any weaknesses, not because they want to, but often because either they don’t feel safe to share – in case of negative consequences – or they’re simply not asked.

Investing time in culture and values interventions, as well as ensuring a regular vulnerability audit is done, are effective and proactive strategies to reduce preventable crises at work.

In Conclusion

The Best Strategy to Manage Crises is to Prevent Them

We all know the saying “prevention is better than cure”, and crisis management is no exception to this rule. Taking the time to review and reflect on previous situations, committing to upholding a new process, and investing time in your staff for culture development and communication are the three steps to becoming more proactive about crisis management in your organisation.

Are you struggling to keep your head above water in your organisation? 4Seeds offers a range of services from individual coaching to organisational culture processes which can help you and your team to effectively circumnavigate preventable crises at work. Contact us at to find out how we can help you.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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