Three tips to help your employees spot a crisis

The good news: most established companies have some sort of business continuity and crisis communications plan. Hopefully your company has one. The bad news: once companies create a plan, few ensure they’re actually ready to handle a crisis.

There are a lot of steps you can take to prepare for a potential crisis. But if you haven’t trained your employees on how to spot a potential crisis, you can be blindsided quicker than you can blink. Why? Because some events that turn into crises could have been prevented, if only someone had spotted the signs early enough.

If you don’t think your employees can spot a potential crisis, here are three things you can do:

  • Keep employees informed.
  • Ensure open, clear communication channels.
  • Make, and test, a short Message Map for every announcement.

Informed employees are more likely to spot a potential crisis

Relevant internal communications are critical to giving your employees the information they need to spot a crisis. When your employees are aware of what’s going on in your industry, in your community, and with your clients, they’re more likely to be able to spot a potential crisis.

Regularly update and distribute your organization’s SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis so employees are always aware of potential risks and threats that could impact your organization.

Want to make sure your internal communications are hitting the mark? Read this blog.

Keep communication channels open and easy to use

Spotting a potential crisis isn’t enough. Employees need to know who to contact if they do see a potential threat. Do you have a hotline and email address for employees to use if they spot a crisis? If not, establish one right away.

Employees need to know they have a safe, direct way to report a potential crisis. Once you create your hotline, educate all employees on how to use it – and assure them that no matter is too small to report. You’d rather be overprepared than surprised.

Encourage your employees to report odd or unusual occurrences, and even potentially harmful social media posts. These days, you never know what could turn into a potential crisis, and your employees need to know that you will take their reports seriously.

Create and test a Message Map before making announcements

Get into the habit of making and testing a short Message Map for every announcement – external and internal. The map doesn’t have to be long, just your key message and the reasons to believe it.

While making the Message Map is important, testing it is critical to help you and your employees spot a potential crisis. Why?

Because we get so used to the way our organizations work we can forget that other people might react differently. A message we think is completely harmless could hit a stakeholder the wrong way – and if it’s a vocal stakeholder, you suddenly have a crisis.

You can test your Message Map by asking yourself these questions:

  • Does your message focus on what’s in it for your audience and not for your company?
  • Does it explain the “why” in addition to the “what” of your announcement?
  • Does it speak the language of your audience and reflect their world view?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” redo your Message Map and announcement before issuing anything.

Once you have an approved Message Map and announcement, ensure any employees who could get questions about it are aware of it before you issue it – or at least at the same time. This will help prepare them to spot a potential crisis.

While you can’t prevent every crisis, ensuring your employees know how to spot a potential crisis can save you time, money, and your brand’s reputation.

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