Companies facing a crisis — such as the current COVID-19 pandemic — must identify who will manage the company’s response. In many cases, this involves the creation of a crisis management team, which can help divvy up the many responsibilities.
What is a crisis management team?
Simply put, a crisis management team is a group of people responsible for keeping the organization running in times of crisis. It is worth noting, however, that crisis management teams are not unique to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many larger organizations create crisis management teams when the organization is not actively responding to a crisis. These teams identify situations that could affect the organization, and then come up with a comprehensive plan for dealing with these events.
From the standpoint of a crisis management plan, a crisis is usually defined as an event with the potential to cause significant harm to health or safety, the organization’s finances or to the organization’s reputation. Organizations that do not have a team in place when a crisis hits will benefit from creating a smaller team that is laser-focused on the situation at hand.
The actual responsibilities of such a team will inevitably vary from one organization to the next, but the overall goals will remain largely consistent across all organizations. Those goals are to ensure the continuity of business, while also helping to maintain the health and safety of employees. Some of the individual tasks that an organization’s crisis response team might handle include:
- Creating or following a crisis communication plan to keep employees, customers and the media updated;
- Ensuring that assets are in place to allow employees to work remotely;
- Developing protocols designed to protect the health of anyone who does have to come into the office (such as an IT pro who is responding to an outage); and
- Creating a plan to ensure the organization’s financial survival, such as reducing expenses or applying for government grants.
Who are typical members of a crisis management team?
Crisis response teams typically consist of employees from the Human Resources, Legal and Communications departments, as well as key stakeholders from the IT department, Finance department and various business units. It is also important to include someone who will be responsible for communicating key information to employees, customers and the media. Ideally, such communications come from one of the organization’s senior executives.