Office Crisis Averted
By Jill Andrew for METRO TORONTO
Published November 20, 2004
Crises are a part of life and the crises in the workplace are no different.
What you define as a crisis, how your company copes while it and the type of mood you set in the office during the storm makes all the difference between whether everyone drowns or lives to learn from and tell others about it.
Shelle Rose Charvet, president of Success Strategies, travels around the world to train and consult organizations on solving difficult communication problems.
“Unless they [companies] learn to balance the need to prevent and solve immediate problems with the need to achieve strategic ‘bigger picture’ long-term goals, they put the entire organization at risk,” says Charvet.
Charvet mentions the way a crisis is defined can also have an impact on a company’s success rate in surviving it.
“Crises should be looked at as … something the company failed to predict this time that needs to be dealt with and incorporated into future planning to make sure to be ready next time,” says Charvet.
Looking at a crisis as an intense teachable moment gives employees the chance to learn from the crisis rather than simply reacting to the fear of the high stress environment a crisis can bring to the company, says Charvet.
“Some employers are crisis-driven meaning that somehow or another this type of employer finds a way to transform everything into a crisis. This essentially is unproductive since you end up creating a reactive rather than active team always on edge,” Charvet says.
The wrong reaction to any crisis, Charvet explains, can make employees lose faith in their manager’s leadership abilities.
“Yelling, blaming others, creating panic and unreasonable demands or deadlines of your employees … focusing on an inevitable disaster about to occur rather than looking at solutions or improvements for next time will only raise the stress barometer. When companies react only to a crisis without the long-term company goal in mind their solutions may in fact be good for the immediate ‘crisis’ but unproductive for the larger picture,” Charvet says.
Charvet encourages a four step plan that teams can use for dealing with ‘constructive’ rather than ‘destructive’ crisis management.
She encourages companies to briefly describe the crisis and determine its importance and urgency, clearly define the company’s immediate and future goals even within the crisis, outline a step process as to how to survive the impending danger and then lastly act on their survival plan and evaluate its effectiveness.
Charvet agrees that “crisis” is a word loosely thrown around in today’s workforce. For this reason, it is essential for businesses to understand how to define real ones and work throughout them towards success while still maintaining focus on the final prize.
“If everyday is a crisis then obviously the team is not learning from previous ones,” Charvet says. “The more you can learn from them the less stressed, more productive, more people friendly your team will be.”
- Make a list of ‘possible crises’ that could occur at the office. Have a contingency plan and practise it every now and then.
- Breath first at the moment of the crisis. It’s often within the first 10 seconds of any crisis that you are most likely to make the biggest irreversible mistakes.
- Be observant. It never hurts to keep mental notes of how other companies/experts deal with certain industry snags along the way.
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