No organization is immune to the “unexpected.” Sometimes it’s as simple as the entrance of a new competitor into your marketplace…other times it’s as horrific as a natural disaster or as threatening as a severe economic downturn. When the unexpected happens, executive teams and workgroups alike, need to keep their focus and minimize the event’s negative impact.
Here are five things GREAT teams do to remain cool, calm and collected.
Every organization hopes that they’ve adequately prepared for a potential threat or critical event, but it is rarely the case. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to default to “reacting” rather than “responding” when something bad happens. Even in times of crisis, you can manage a situation.
• Spend time discussing where you are and what else could happen; develop action plans accordingly. Make the plans detailed and be sure to plan for a variety of possibilities (even your “worst case” scenario).
• Provide any necessary training to give people the tools, skills or procedures they’ll need.
• Bring team members and stakeholders into the planning process so they “own” the plan too.
2. Leverage Your Luck
Even in the most dire of circumstances there are positive aspects of a situation that can be used to your advantage.
• Make sure everyone is engaged in the exercise of looking for possibilities. Identify what is going right and build on that.
• Help people resist the tendency to complain. Lead discussions around examples of how “bad luck” can turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
A crisis can bring out the best in people. It adds energy and urgency and motivates team members to achieve a higher level of effort.
• Put an even higher value on work to be done—help people see how what they’re doing is vitally important to the team/organization.
• Ensure that all affected groups participate in debriefs, evaluations and corrective action planning.
• Ask everyone to be “on call” to help others, even those they don’t normally work with.
Under regular conditions, poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes; in a crisis, the consequences can be far greater.
• Identify information people need the most and make sure there are methods (and back up methods) in place to get them that information.
• Model “best practices” such as active listening and calm & clear verbal and written communication.
• Open the lines of communication so that everyone feels free to present an idea or state a concern.
Without a commitment to execution, none of the above factors will have a chance of success.
• Make sure all affected team/groups have copies of relevant action plans and understand the role(s) they play in them.
• Don’t overlook factors that may prevent a commitment to execution (e.g. a lack of trust among team members, distrust of the organization, insufficient resources, or false consensus concerning action steps or plans). Do your best to address/remove these obstacles.
• Rely on communication to keep people organized, aware of what is happening and what is needed.
• Stop frequently along the way and ask, “What are we doing well?” and “What do we need to improve?”
By using these five factors, teams are able to achieve significant goals, even when the odds seem to be against them. By honing the skills in times of crisis, they will almost always improve their performance when things return to normal.
Taken from content in the CRM Learning program, Teamwork in Crisis: The Miracle of Flight 232 © CRM Learning 2001
Recommended Training Resource: Some problems can be addressed before they lead to disaster. Our We’re On The Same Team, Remember? video program has helped hundreds of organizations identify potentially devastating deficiencies in teamwork, communication and accountability.