Whether you are a corporate executive with a major public-relations problem on your hands, an entrepreneur who made a wrong decision that is now affecting your reputation or a high-profile industry leader who has just been terminated by your employer, you are probably struggling to manage your crisis.
And you will be managing your crisis the wrong way if you don't first address yourself.
It's human nature to want to get at the heart of the work at hand, like managing your new message or fixing broken processes. But it is vital to do a bit of soul-searching to figure out how you got there and what’s necessary to change the way you manage and lead going forward.
Consider guiding yourself through the following three steps to allow you to avoid these kinds of crises in the future and be well prepared if one sneaks up again:
Own your sh-t!
In a crisis situation, you might react and look for someone or something to blame. You may be better off finding a mirror. Telling yourself a story to make you feel better will only land you back in trouble again. You must have had some hand in this outcome, and probably a bigger impact than it may seem on the surface. Dig deep. The sooner you own what happened and take responsibility for your part the better for you personally and professionally, and the better for your organization. Truth is, you have no time to waste.
Get over it.
Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. However, beating yourself up (or harboring ill feelings toward someone else) won’t move you forward. It will keep you stagnant in the present situation, which, if you’re reading this, is likely a mess. So, the question is, why on earth would you want to stay there any longer than necessary? The key is to identify what you can do better going forward. Maybe it’s getting out of the way if you try to control every situation. If you micromanage the people you should be trusting to do the job they were hired for then you’re getting in the way of them doing their jobs. Maybe you have the wrong people in place. If so, address this immediately. This doesn’t mean you must fire a loyal employee. How about reorganizing or reassigning tasks? Maybe you’re completely hands off and your team is looking for direction. If you’re not interested in being hands on, consider firing yourself and finding someone to replace you who is and can. If you’ve just faced termination, now would be a great time to address your shortcomings and work them out before you take on your next venture. There are a whole host of reasons why you might need to look at how you are responsible for this situation. The trick is figuring out why you are and then finding ways to avoid making the same mistake again.
My grandmother taught me that we cannot live in the past, so don’t. And she never did. The past is gone. Dead. If you live in the past then you too might as well be dead. Focus instead on the present and the future. Once you decide to make changes, stick to them. Don’t slide back into the old habits that got you here. Also, make sure you get your employees on the same page by clearly laying out why these changes are good for the organization and for them professionally and personally. Have some level of patience if they resist these changes but hold firm and make sure you move forward. The only true failure would be if you didn't learn from the situation and take action to change what's clearly not working.