One of my clients recently suffered a tragedy. An employee had a heart attack and died in the office. He was in his mid-50s and this came as a shock. To add to it, the spouse also works for the company. My heart went out to them as individuals and as an organization.
As tragic as this is, it does bring to light a serious business situation. What happens when you, or an important member of your team, gets hit by the proverbial bus? Are you prepared as an organization to respond to the imminent emergency and the long-term ramifications?
We hear the word “redundancy” all the time in business, particularly for technology. We have back up systems, back up to backups, risk management plans, and other fail safes. What we often overlook is human redundancy.
Take a look at your organization and answer these questions honestly…
- As owner or chief executive, what happens if I can’t show up for work tomorrow (unexpectedly)? Who knows what I do and who can step in?
- What if you lose your best sales person, executive, manager, or technology guru? Who holds the extra keys; passwords; or other important business tools and strategies?
- How do you deal with the trauma of losing a part of your family? What emotional help do you need to provide?
- Are you prepared for emergency? Do you have first aid kits and a defibrillator?
- Do the people next in line know that they are next in line? How good is your communication with them?
- How good is your communication system for the entire organization? Do you leverage technology for this or still use a phone tree?
- Have you ever practiced for a disaster like losing someone? If not, how do you know it will work?
- Are you afraid to find out what you don’t know?
Bench strength is critical for sports teams. The ability to plug someone in when injury occurs is critical to success. Teams know this, so they plan accordingly. You should know this, too. People leave; get injured; switch positions; and maybe even win the lottery. Some also get hit by that bus. How good is your bench strength and are you prepared to survive?
How you answer that question will go a long way into helping you become a better crisis leader.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved