Can you cope in a crisis?

Hurricane . . . Fire . . . Flood . . . and a few other kinds of catastrophe call for future- thinking and a formula for coping with a crisis. Disasters put business, school and office leaders on front stage whether they want to be or not.

The leadership quotient of people in charge is truly tested during times of crisis. While the world – or at least the surrounding community – is watching, leaders like school principals, factory supervisors and store managers must know how to perform under stress.

Very few people have the natural capacity for quick-witted or level-headed response in chaos. Reacting right in an emergency takes preparation and practice. Every organization is vulnerable at one time or another, so all places where people gather need a Crisis Action Plan.

Put an action plan in writing

Put together a team of leaders from all areas of your business or institution. Ask them to brainstorm any possible crises they could face. Then, work with your team on developing a plan for handing gracefully whatever comes their way.

Practice your plan                                                                                                                     Count on your team to relay your Crisis Action Plan to other employees. Provide everyone on staff with a copy. Then, walk through emergency procedures with various groups. Being prepared to cope with a crises goes a long way to help keep everyone cool, calm, and collected. Readiness lowers the panic rate and limits erratic behavior that adds danger to the situation.

Know how to communicate in a crisis

The media never ignores a calamity. News reporters will want a play-by-play description of how you are handling your mishap. It’s critical to:

  • Put people first. Let the media know that your people are your priority. Tell them what you’re doing to ensure the safety of everyone on site.
  • Then, you should refer reporters to a designated spokesperson to answer further media questions. The selected spokesperson should be someone who knows the organization and the crisis plan well.
  • Provide every employee with the spokesperson’s name and contact information, so they, too, can refer questions to the person best equipped to answer them.

It’s up to business owners and head honchos of all kinds to stay cool and set the pace for others. Leaders need to be ready and train their staff to react wisely in difficult situations.

Blog content provided by Susan K. Maciak, lead consultant at CAMEO Communications, Career  & Corporate Consulting LLC. For details on our Communicating in a Crises training program, contact us at or visit our website:

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