It has been said that around 95% of organisations are either completely unprepared – or seriously underprepared – for crises, even the known ones.

Most crises in the workplace stem from personal conflict, which often leads to a decline in morale, and gives way to a type of “don’t care” attitude. By having regular team interventions, we may gain not only insight into ourselves and our clients, but we can also mitigate current and future risks.

Employees play an essential role in a crisis, and should practice certain strategies in order to avoid conflict in the workplace. These would be things like discipline, respecting their workplace, being unbiased, knowing when is the right time to involve HR, actively listening to others, and applying empathy. Team leaders must actively foster positive relationships within their teams, and plan team building events that are fun and motivational. It’s essential to work on team skills such as communication, planning, problem-solving and conflict resolution, and to encourage team members to spend time together outside of work.

Not surprisingly, the first stage of a crisis is prevention. Amazingly, it is usually skipped altogether, even though it’s the least costly and the simplest way to control a potential crisis. The problem may be that crises are accepted by many executives as an unavoidable condition of everyday existence.

Understanding crisis prevention

Crisis prevention plans are intended to help individuals in the workforce to prevent minor problems from escalating into crisis events. A crisis is defined as a difficult or dangerous time in which a solution is needed, and fast! In order for an organisation to survive a crisis, drastic and extreme measures are sometimes taken. The key to crisis prevention is to have level-headed, positive, creative, and loyal team members who support each other as well as the organisation wholeheartedly.

Being able to effectively respond in the event of a crisis is critical to an organisation’s survival. Whether or not it is prepared for a potential crisis depends on both leadership and the workforce within the organisation. Training, equipping, and supporting teams plays an important role in crisis prevention.

Crisis communication

Team building is the most important investment you can make for your staff. It builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration. Accept the fact that every member of your team is a public relations representative as well as a crisis manager, no matter what their “official” role might be.

Keeping yourself and your team feeling empowered, with a strong sense of belonging, will naturally result in a stronger sense of responsibility. When individuals in the working environment feel as if they are valued, they will own their positions with a higher sense of duty, and communicate more openly. This is all generated through strong team building and strong leadership.

Crisis prevention

This is a fundamental, ethical, and responsibility issue which needs to be addressed during team interventions. Team members should not only have the confidence and be comfortable enough to act intuitively, but they must also feel a sense of duty and responsibility to act with initiative.

Whether a team member acts on their own in a corrective manner, or lets management know about an issue which poses potential risk to the organisation, IS NOT, in fact, the major issue. Whether a team member acts AT ALL, is.

Companies sometimes misclassify a problem, focusing on the technical aspects and ignoring issues of perception. Companies and teams must make plans for dealing with crises: action plans, communication plans, re drills, and essential relationships, etc. Making a plan to deal with a variety of undesirable outcomes if disaster does strike is vital. It’s worth remembering that Noah started building the ark before the rain began.

Crisis management

Crisis management helps employees as well as organisations to cope with difficult times in the best possible way. There is an art to managing an emergency situation in the workplace, through effective planning and quick action. This needs to be done by leaders and employees during times of crisis.

Most importantly, once the organisation or team is out of crisis, it’s the leader’s duty to communicate the lessons learnt so that employees do not make the same mistakes again.

In conclusion

Almost every crisis contains the seeds of success as well as the roots of failure. Finding, cultivating, and harvesting that potential success is the essence of crisis management. And the essence of crisis mismanagement is the propensity to take a bad situation and make it worse.

In short, a good team will always be the perfect adherent to crisis prevention, while a not-so-good team, will run a bigger risk of falling into crisis. Discipline, both in the self and for authority, is what will prevent a constant state of crisis within an organisation, and lead to positive team building.

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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