Crisis Response: An Opportunity To Build Your Culture (Part 1)

Crisis Management: An Opportunity To Build Your Culture

How do you envision your role as a leader during a crisis?

In my 30-plus years of responding to crisis situations in a variety of roles, I’ve identified two truths that can blind a leader…and cripple their organization.

  • The event is never the real crisis.
  • The crisis is always an opportunity.

How you perceive and respond to a crisis will shape your company’s culture.

Whether it’s the loss of a significant client, a breakdown in technology that impacts your company’s data, or – worse yet – injuries and casualties in your workplace, the choices you make as a leader will determine how your team endures the challenge.

The 4 T’s of a workplace crisis

Picture a teeter-totter.

On either side are:

  • A healthy and an unhealthy workplace environment;
  • A leadership model that survives and one that thrives;
  • A pattern of progression that goes a snail’s pace or accelerates;
  • A result that fulfills your company’s goals and one that falls short;

Let’s break this down to the Four T’s of a Workplace Crisis…

1. Toxic

Mental health and well-being are not prioritized, not actively promoted, or addressed in any significant or viable way.

Here are the results…

  • People feel remote or disconnected, have no trust of anyone else.
  • There’s cynicism and gossip, backstabbing, bullying, harassment.
  • Productivity drops and doesn’t rebound.
  • Absenteeism, turnover, and medical leaves increase.
  • Recruitment and retention become concerns in the absence of pension and benefits.
  • People aren’t honest about their concerns, even when asked.
  • Leadership and personnel start to doubt the competencies and capabilities of their team.
  • There’s an undercurrent of heated conflict and conflict aversion, resulting in low morale.
  • Keeping your ‘back to the wall’ is a core practice, as feeling safe at work is not an option.

2. Tense

The best description is a classic airplane flight…those moments where everything is sailing along fine and then suddenly things get bumpy You buckle up and hold on.

Here are the results…

  • The workplace is a an environment in which people are walking on eggshells, not sure what the reaction will be about this time because, whenever there’s an issue someone is being blamed.
  • There is a sense of accountability.
  • Where there’s an imminent need to get the job done and completed, it’s getting done.
  • People are being told – and expected – to keep their personal and work life separate.
  • Feeling ‘safe’ is rare occasion but it’s happened enough for people to hope it will again.

3. Treated

This is a workplace in which a few of the leaders model personnel care. Their message is coming across to the team.

Here are the results…

  • Personnel are less hesitant to ask for support in a crisis, but it’s dependant on the division or department and the leadership of staff.
  • There is little to no consistency across the company itself, but it is happening, and people are becoming more aware.
  • The support tends to fade after a few months – at the most – even though the impacted people are still trying to find their norm.
  • There seems to be a sense of caring, and everyone stays on course when the pressure is on, but things inevitably swerve back into the ditch.
  • Feeling ‘safe’ is sporadic, but it has improved.

4. Thriving

The safe and supportive workplace where culture, engagement, and leadership are all reflecting the truth that your personnel’s mental health and well-being as a whole are promoted…beyond rhetoric.

Here are the results…

  • Leaders and personnel are aligned on the focus and core values in practises, planning and new initiatives, even when there are differences and disagreements.
  • Crisis situations are dealt with as part of change, growth, and life in general. People are supported for as long as required, since there is a proactive intervention plan.
  • Conflict is dealt with through constructive and future-focussed thinking. Like a great sports team, conflict is about the team playing for the win.
  • People feel challenged to assume new roles in their career path, while at the same time not being pressured into roles that do not suit their passion or gifts.
  • Relationships and culture are constantly enhanced through trust, leadership and communication.

Is it possible to break from the traditional crisis response?

As you read through these four scenarios and reflect on your workplace, ask yourself whether or not you’re thriving.

It’s possible to break from the toxic, tense, and treated models and thrive.

In my next article, I’ll share some actions you can take to lift up yourself – and your team – in times of crisis. It’s possible to weather the storm and grow in the process.

Is your company in crisis right now? Contact me, and we’ll work on some solutions together.

Related reading:

Our Emotional Attachment To Memories Defines Us – Here’s Why
Finishing Well Requires Self-examination And a Will To Matter
Returning To Normal Is Highly Overrated. Here’s Why.

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The Fortlog Advantage

Organizations across North America have been benefiting from FORTLOG’s Interpersonal Crisis Management, Coaching & Consulting services for over 30 years, counting on John to help shepherd them through their most challenging storms. Today, a growing number of workplaces benefit from John’s proven strategies, systems and speeches that focus on integrating core-value practices “not just policies and procedures''.

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