Guest thinking: Helen Barge, MD, Risk Evolves

Crisis management?! What crisis? “It’ll never happen to us” were the words uttered by a Client earlier today on a call.

Whilst clearly we sincerely hope that continues to be the case, as Risk Managers, we’d recommend a more pragmatic approach – ‘Expect the best, but plan for the worst’. We’re not being doomsayers or pessimists, we’re just being practical. As business owners and leaders we’re expected to focus on the future, on building our organisations, our customer and client bases, skilling our teams etc, and there’s an army of people who are there to support us in this growth – Business Coaches, membership and industry organisations and so on.

But what happens if something goes wrong? How prepared are we to manage a cyber attack, a serious accident in the workplace, an environmental incident, a volcanic ash cloud, the death of a key employee? Who can we depend upon in a crisis? Who would or should we call? What do we say? What don’t we say? Who can advise? What do we say to Clients / Customers? What about other stakeholders – employees, employee families, suppliers? Who should speak with the media? How do we respond to comments on social media channels? Who should speak to the Police, HSE, ICO, Environment Agency or other regulators? When do we involve the insurers? Should we call a lawyer – and if so, which one?

You may be reading this blog in a spare 5 minutes in between meetings, drinking your coffee at leisure, without pressure or time restrictions. But what if the unthinkable happened. You need to think and react NOW. How would you respond to members of your team firing these questions to you. Split second decision making is required. You may not have all the information or data to make the right decision. You need to make the BEST decision you can in the circumstances. You need to demonstrate the leadership and inspire confident and calmness in your team. Can you? How will they respond?

Rehearsing how you and your team respond under pressure is an important part of leading a business. Instead of being seen as a negativity action, crisis management exercises frequently identify opportunities in the team and ways of doing things differently / better. They will demonstrate who is good under pressure, or those who aren’t. Instead of the negative, see crisis management as a business improvement opportunity.

“Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”


Article by Helen Barge, Managing Director, Risk Evolves.

About Helen: I lead Risk Evolves, an award winning dynamic management consultancy specialising in governance, risk and compliance. Our Clients tell us we are welcoming, accessible and affordable, human and happy. Put simply, we love the compliance ‘stuff’ that most businesses hate, and yes, we’re a weeny bit geeky!

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