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Step 6: Develop a Crisis Management Mindset Among

The very act of crisis auditing and planning helps to cultivate a crisis mindset among those involved. But it is also important to make all employees aware of the role they play in averting crises and managing them when they do occur.

Once crisis management teams are established, plans are written and a Crisis Resource book established, the CMT should consider distributing checklists to employees explaining how to proceed when they receive information signaling a potential crisis.

For example, telephone operators and customer service representatives should be issued prepared questions to ask callers who report tampering incidents, or foodborne illness. Manufacturing and quality assurance personnel should be trained to report any deviation from normal processing operations which might affect product safety. Finally, all personnel should be instructed to report unauthorized entries onto company premises. Employees should be instructed to transmit all of this information directly to a member of the CMT, as well as the individual employee’s immediate supervisor. Making employees feel that they have a stake in averting and managing crises is an important part of an overall strategy.

Another useful exercise in preparing for a crisis is conducting a crisis drill. To conduct a drill, the Core Crisis Management Team should select a crisis scenario, like a product tampering incident. The group should notify all staff that a drill will take place that week. The team also should designate individuals to play various roles. For example, one employee could be the consumer phoning in to allege that a foreign object was found in a processed product. Another could play a reporter, who wants a statement. When they phone in to the company, they should notify that they are staging a drill, but that the situation should be treated seriously.

The Core Crisis Management Team should then operate according to the plan. Appropriate records should be pulled and statements should be drafted as if the crisis were actually happening. One important note: all written documents should carry bold letters across the top, “This Document is Part of a Crisis Preparedness Drill!!!!” All actions contained in the plan should be executed up to the point of actually issuing a statement, phoning a regulatory official or inviting the media to a press conference. A company may wish to consider actually hosting a mock press conference, complete with staff posing as local reporters.

Drills should be conducted roughly once a year or after there have been major management changes at the company or on the Crisis Management Team.