Crises is business are not a big deal. They happen every day. The big deal is how you deal with a crisis.
There are 4 ways to react:
- Play dead
- Blame others
- Deal with it
The first 3 options are instinctive. Whilst they may result in short term survival, they will inevitably lead to failure in the long term.
That leaves the last option. “Deal with it”. This means counteracting your instincts:
- Don’t play dead. Tackle the crisis head on. Have the guts to call the customer. Speak to the media. Call the banker. Do whatever is most scary. Go into the lion’s den.
- Don’t deny. Accept there is a crisis. Instead of looking at your dashboard and arguing you’re right, assume the customer is always right and look for problems on your side.
- Don’t blame anyone, especially the customer. There is always time for post-mortems, but when you’re in the fire the priority is to put out the fire. Take personal responsibility for the cause of the crisis, even if you are not personally to blame.
And remember, above all else, be humble. People don’t like arrogance and will pounce on you when you are weak. An attitude of humility always pays dividends, especially when you need a break.
Lastly, and most importantly, be honest.
Be honest with your boss, your subordinates and your customers.
Don’t hide the truth.
People will forgive the odd mistake.
People never forgive being lied to.