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Don’t neglect post-crisis evaluation

By Jim Preen.

One of the least understood aspects of a crisis is post-crisis evaluation. Once an incident is over it’s tempting for all concerned to forget and move on; even if managers know that lessons should be learnt.

If no evaluation takes place there can be no action plan and without that business continuity plans won’t be updated, roles and responsibilities won’t be reassessed and it’s unlikely that essential training will take place.

How to conduct a post-crisis evaluation

If you’re conducting a post-crisis debriefing session here are two questions to jump start discussions:

  • Could we have seen the crisis coming?
  • Did we miss any indicators?

Thereafter staff should be pressed, either during discussions or by questionnaire for answers to some searching questions:

  • In your view did the company deal with the incident effectively and has confidence in our organization been maintained? Staff can suffer in many ways during an emergency and ultimately it is they who will rescue a company or see it fail. If staff see the company is interested in what they have to say it will boost morale and you’ll glean essential facts to make your organization more resilient in the future.
  • What went well, what could have been improved?
  • What extra manpower and equipment was required and was it made available?

Answers to these practical, resource and logistic based questions will form the bedrock of any action plan and will ultimately find their way into updated plans.

  • Did the company communicate in a timely and effective manner?
  • Were the company’s messages consistent?

During an emergency the root cause of the problem has to be tackled and the crisis resolved, but it’s also critical that a company telegraph what is being done through effective communications. As far as the public’s perception goes, if you’re not seen to be tackling the problem then you’re not.

One other thought: don’t forget to ask the same questions of the CEO and other C suite executives. Enquiries should extend from the shop floor to the top floor.

This is clearly not an exhaustive list of questions that need to be asked post-incident, but is intended to raise a topic that is often swept under the carpet. Unfortunately for some organizations questions like this are never asked because managers know they won’t like the answers. Another pitfall is even when these questions are sought and answers are forthcoming, organizations fail to implement change.

A crisis isn’t pleasant and wouldn’t be wished on anybody but on the upside an incident can provide excellent learning and can ultimately increase an organization’s resilience: that’s if the fallout is handled correctly.

The author

Jim Preen is Head of Media at Crisis Solutions. Contact jim.preen@crisis-solutions.com

•Date: 29th April 2014 • UK/World •Type: Article • Topic: Crisis management

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