Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail, as the old saying goes. It is the same in business as in life. The more we can plan for the uncertainties the more they are no longer uncertainties.
Some of the potential threats to a business, a Safety Leader should be aware of, include a natural disaster, terrorist attack, cyber terrorism, fire, pandemic, and equipment breakdown, loss of a key employee or process, financial downturn, or a sneeze in one part of the world that turns into a cold in another part of the world, as we are seeing in our globalized community. They can all affect not only the company we work for but the employees’ health and safety.
You name it, as we can all attest, if it has happened to one it can happen to anyone. A Safety Leader needs to put in place a plan to prevent these threats from happening; or if they do happen, a plan to prevent further harm to the organization, by way of a Business Continuity Plan.
For example, if I owned a coffee shop, that had a fire that burnt down the building that I serve coffee in, perhaps my contingency plan would be to know where I could access an Atco trailer, and have the necessary stock on hand at another location, so that I could serve coffee the very next morning. Thereby, remaining in business until a new building could be built.
It is key to have a plan for every possible scenario (such as a work-at-home policy during a health scare such as swine flu), as some companies are already pandemic planning and are putting the necessary means in place to be prepared. There are as many scenarios as there are actual risks that could affect your venture. Look at what your neighbours are doing. Try to develop a rapport with your neighbours to see how you can assist each other in a crisis.
Some basic elements a Safety Leader needs to ensure are part of their “disaster recovery” plan start with involvement of your staff, as they are key stakeholders to the success of your enterprise. They can form a team that can inspire each other and brainstorm, plan, analyze, develop and practice your plan. Recognize that as a leader, you can’t necessarily fix everything and don’t need to do it all themselves. Involving others of your organization will assist in preparing your staff in the event that an emergency happens, and recognize the importance to be able to delegate responsibility before and during a crisis.
Overall, this is an area in which can be overseen by you and your team but it would be advisable to enlist in outside services for help. Even if it is just to consult with someone with experience in this area, and get a fresh perspective on the plan to confirm “Will it work?”
Preparing for a threat involves succession planning. You may be asking yourself of all the duties I already have how do I include preparing for things that could happen as opposed to what is currently happening?
When you look at how risk is defined as an uncertain event or condition that, IF it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a business’ objectives. Missed objectives are likely caused by unforeseen events and inadequate risk management. Therefore, it is crucial to the success as a leader of his or her organization and overall to be aware of the areas of risk that could impact the operation.
The most important leadership skills and characteristics to possess in order to be a successful leader during a crisis as described by Clarke Murphy, who heads the CEO Search Practice for Russell Reynolds, talks about three crucial leadership skills needed in a time of crisis: Communication, Agility, and Decisiveness. Eric Santillin added a fourth one: Inspiration.
Be willing to listen to those of your organization who are in the trenches, when they tell you of something they foresee could go wrong, Stop and listen, then ensure you ask them how they would fix it.
Secondly, recognize that managing crisis is part of the job of leadership. Leaders are sometimes the variable that makes the difference. It is during the crisis that others will look to you to see how bad it really is, and you need to have the skills to pull it all back together again when it all falls to pieces. It is important to be a strong communicator, and be able to guide employees through a crisis with reassurance. That you believe you have a strong team that can work through the crisis, and that everyone is the most important part of the team.
Some say that a leader is born but most leaders are taught. Special training can be an enhancement to become more skilled in crisis management. Do some soul searching, most especially ask yourself, how do I handle crisis in my personal life?
This can be an indicator. Do you have a complete meltdown at missing the bus, or breaking your shoelace? Perhaps a few courses could assist you, both personally and professionally.
Possessing skills in areas such as crisis management, risk management and security management help a leader further his or her career development by being able to be adaptable and enabling the owner of the company to know they can rely on you at the end of the day. Confident, that you will not abandon the ship when left at the helm. It is my belief that these skills effectively separate a leader from the competition during a job search.
“Companies now want candidates who have already had experiences going through a massive change program. That is no longer a nice to have. That is a must have,” says John Ellis, Managing Director of Boyden UK.
Especially in our globalized community where more and more, we are affected by the events that happen. But in a crisis, companies need leaders accomplished in reducing cost, conserving resources, and managing day-to-day. But ultimately have the ability to protect the most valuable asset their employees.
Crisis Management- Pamela Cowan, Director, Safety Developments