Crisis Management Pillars: Building Alignment With Stakeholders
When it comes to the people most critical to mounting a proper crisis response, you probably think first of those teams and individuals who work with you directly to resolve issues. However, there is another equally important group that holds the power to either make or break your crisis plan: the stakeholders.
While not usually involved directly in the resolution of a crisis, stakeholders are a critical link in the chain. They are often in the best position to organize and communicate with employees and other audiences on the ground. If you arm them properly, they can be aligned with your plans and a powerful force for unifying the organization as a whole. If you fail to arm them, they can become a source of confusion and chaos.
Shockingly, more than half of enterprise organizations do not take the time to even identify their relevant stakeholders as they develop their crisis plans, much less establish tools and plans to keep them in the loop. These organizations are practically begging for pandemonium to break out as their next crisis hits.
Other crisis management leaders know that stakeholders should be treated as critical partners, but they struggle to effectively distribute critical information to them when things go down and keep them updated as events progress.
If we are to improve the way we work with stakeholders during crises, things must change. We need to know who our stakeholders are. As part of our crisis plans, we must include both the tools and processes necessary to empower stakeholders to be effective spokespeople and organizers on the ground.
Actionable playbooks and scalable communication services are powerful places to start such a change. These can bring significant improvements in alignment with stakeholders, including the following.
In crises, where conditions change by the hour, the act of manually assembling and distributing data is just too time-consuming and too often results in teams and stakeholders receiving stale, outdated information. Now, however, crisis management platforms can allow leaders to create and share one cloud-based report for stakeholders. As stakeholders visit and revisit the report, they see the most recent data in real-time, without relying on the leader to do so.
Instead of manually typing out emails to send to a massive list of recipients, scalable communication services can automate the sending of notifications as conditions change—for example, on the hour or as specific issues are resolved. Such services can also ensure that the stakeholder send list is current and accurate and that the right people are receiving critical information.
Scalable communication services can do more than just distribute data—they can also gather data from stakeholders. Polls can be embedded or linked to in emails or texts for stakeholders to respond to. For example, a crisis management leader anticipating a hurricane’s landfall near corporate offices might send a poll to stakeholders to ascertain how many people are still at the office and what their needs are in terms of food, water, and other necessities.
A major downside of hard-copy playbooks is the difficulty of providing access to them and controlling which versions are in circulation—both of which can kill stakeholder alignment. Digital, actionable playbooks, on the other hand, are easier to distribute en masse to stakeholders. Given the proper tools, you can easily remove outdated versions and ensure that only current versions are available to stakeholders. A crisis management platform can even allow teams and stakeholders to have a digital copy stored on their device, while also making them available in the cloud.
Scalable communication services make it possible to instantaneously distribute incident reports to all relevant teams and stakeholders. This saves precious time for crisis management leaders and puts all relevant personnel in possession of the facts they need to do their jobs, at the moment that the information becomes available.
Publishing action steps and guidelines in checklists helps stakeholders zero in on what they need to do, without sifting through an entire document. Ideally, they will include clear, bullet-point protocols regarding who they should involve and when in the process each step should occur. Call lists and other contact information should be immediately available to enable stakeholders to nimbly communicate and carry out their roles.
Leaders, teams, and stakeholders cannot choose where they will be or what device they will have on hand when a crisis shows up. Whatever format you choose for your action plans and communications, focus on its accessibility. Can stakeholders access it outside of the office? Can they use it as effectively on a mobile device as they can on a desktop? If you choose to make documents accessible in the cloud, are your documents secure from any unwanted intruders?
Technology is a major key ingredient in getting stakeholders aligned with your crisis plans, but the investment is well worth the benefits of the partnership it will create. Crisis management leaders who invest in such technology enjoy a significant reduction in unwelcome deviations from stakeholders. They experience greater confidence and peace of mind before and during crisis situations, knowing they have put into stakeholders’ hands all the information and tools they need to act as part of a well-coordinated unit.
Learn how RockDove Solutions’ In Case of Crisis 365 risk management platform solidifies stakeholder alignment by visiting rockdovesolutions.com.