Management of crises is a major challenge that faces the management of any organization. A crisis is an event that poses a danger that can be detrimental to the organization, the general public, or the stakeholders. Crisis management is well thought-out as the most essential process in public relations (Galloway, Christopher, & Kwamena, 2005). There are three fundamentals that are universal to a crisis. They include short time to make decisions, a threat, and an element of surprise to the institution or organization. In the event of a crisis, a change is essential in order to bring about stability. The presence for the need of a change derives a distinction between a crisis and failure or incident as the latter does not demand for a change. Management of risk entails the assessment of potential threats and coming up with the best solutions of avoiding the threats assessed. It is a process that entails dealing threats before their occurrence, during their occurrence and after they have occurred. The discipline of crisis management requires techniques and skills that are important in identifying, assessing, understanding, and coping with a severe situation from the time of occurrence to the time when procedures of recovery begin.
Types of crises
There are different types of crisis, and these crises need different approaches in order to combat them efficiently. Some of these types of crises include natural disasters, workplace violence, rumors, malevolence, technological crises, and terrorist attacks. Natural crises occur naturally as natural disasters e.g. floods, earthquakes, landslides, storms, volcanic eruptions and droughts. These natural crises are life threatening and they are also a threat to the environment and property. Technological crises refer to those disasters that are caused by the actions of man as a result of his application of science and technology. Complex technology may cause inevitable technological accidents. This may be as a result of breakdowns in technologies. Sometimes human being may cause technological breakdowns as a result of their disruptions. Technological crises arise when blames are assigned on certain individuals in case a technological disaster occurs. A technological crisis develops because human beings can manipulate technology. Examples of technological crises may include industrial accidents, software failures etc (Bernstein & Bruce, 2011).
Malevolence crises occur when opponents and competitors use extreme tactics or criminal means to express anger or hostility in an attempt to gain from an organization, a country, or a firm with an objective of destroying or destabilizing it. Examples of this type of crises include kidnapping, terrorist attacks, malicious rumors, espionage, and product tampering (Bernstein & Bruce, 2011). Workplace crises or violence is another type of crisis that occurs when a former or a current employee commits a violent behavior against fellow employees on the grounds of the organization. As opposed to violence, rumors involve the spread of false information about a firm or an organization, its employees or its products. The spread of such information creates crises that hurt the reputation of an organization. Examples of such rumors include spreading information that a firm’s products are unsafe or even contaminated. Rumors may also involve the linking of a firm or an organization to a radical group.
Problems encountered by managers when solving crises
Managers are faced with many problems in their life and work, just like everyone experiences some problems and difficulties in the course of their lives. Time is of the essence when solving crises. Time is always limited and managers have to work within the limited time at their disposal to ensure that they have solved any crises being faced by the organization. Problems on the other hand keep on mounting rapidly forcing managers to take short cuts. Short cuts only help to alleviate tension for a short period of time in order to move to the next problem, but in the process, the cores of the problems are not solved. This creates a never-ending cycle of problems, which makes it hard to find real resolutions. Time is, therefore limited, and may lead to short time decisions or even wrong decisions in an attempt to bring to an end a certain crisis that an organization may be facing (Galloway, Christopher, & Kwamena, 2005).
There are different types of people in the work place of any organization. Some people complicate matters with their corporate envy, power plays, and self-promotion. This creates difficulties to the managers when dealing with these different types of people. For instance, there will be delayed decisions as a result of conflicting interests. Keeping in mind, that time is limited, delayed decisions and actions may make the crises that the organizations could be facing go out of hand. Should this happen it becomes difficult to solve the crisis and it may end up generating devastating results.
Communication problems are another major problem that is encountered when solving crises affecting an organization. These problems may be perceived in different ways. At times people or workers may disagree with the manager’s message and hence disregard it. In this case, these people may not actively demonstrate that they disagree with the message. As a result, the message is not accompanied by actions. This may lead to the failure of achieving a set objective. The manager may also use a poor communication strategy in an attempt to communicate important information to the people. The message may fail to reach a majority of the people. This would automatically symbolize failure. Communication is vital for the achievement of various goals and objectives (Galloway, Christopher, & Kwamena, 2005). Lack of a proper communication strategy brings about failure in organizations and it may bring about crises or difficulties in solving crises.
Analyzing crises management
In the occurrence of a crisis, there is emerges a need for immediate communication. A crisis may affect the operations of an organization or a business entity. For instance, the occurrence of a natural crisis e.g. a landslide may result to destruction of the entire business as a result of the demolishment of the structures. In the event of such a crisis, many individuals and groups of people would be affected. Customers would require knowing the impact that they would experience. There would be a need to notify the regulators as well as the officials of the local government. A great impact would also be felt on the employees and their entire families, and they would be concerned and require information. The neighboring communities would wish to know more concerning the crisis, especially if the incident threatens their lives or properties. Either an organization should be well prepared to respond on time, confidently and accurately as the public can impact the image of the organization positively or negatively according to the way the organization handles the incident. It is also important for the business or organization to be familiar with the potential audiences, as they will all require knowing how the crisis would affect them (Hill & Laurence, 2009).
Organizational crises may occur at any time and at any place, and may result in loss of property and fatalities that may differ in magnitude. A day can hardly pass without the occurrence of an organizational crisis. Lack of preparation on the side of the organization may result to a payment of exorbitant prices for the aftermath in the event of unexpected crisis. A study revealed that about 90% of chief executive officers believe that business or organizational crises are almost inevitable. The occurrence of crises has different effects on culture. For instance, crises shrink the resources available to the households or the general society (Hill & Laurence, 2009). The reduction in the resources available to the people will have a negative effect on consumption. This therefore symbolizes that crises will lead to reduced consumption and hence a negative effect on the way of the people.
Organizational crises will have a negative impact on cultural tourism. A natural crisis e.g. terrorism will instill fear on tourists, hence minimizing the number of tourists who could be touring a given region or country in a given period of time. Natural crises have more devastating effects compared to all other types of crises. In a case where natural crises affects key organizations in a country production would decline and signs of recessions would occur. The GDP would diminish and signs of economic deterioration would be visible in many components of social system, as well as the culture subsystem. Organization managers should also strive to ensure that the culture of the organization is observed and maintained. This would imply ensuring that workers behave in accordance to the stipulated conduct and the spelt out ethics. The business should also work towards the success of the community at large, e.g. by supporting community projects. Most important, organization managers and businesses should ensure that they observe the culture of the community where they businesses are based, other than eroding the culture of the native people.
Managers require different skills in order to solve different crises that the organization may face. For a manager to be professional, he must possess appropriate qualities and characteristics so as to function appropriately. These qualities and characteristics help to build the required skills and knowledge, and the application of these combinations develops competence within the manager. The requirement and balance of these skills and knowledge varies from individual to individual and they transform with experience, maturity, training, and level of education. In order to be a competitive and an effective manager, there is a need to portray positive behavior, skills, and knowledge (Hill & Laurence, 2009).
Strategies to address management of crises
The first step in managing a crisis is to respond by communicating the crisis to as many people as possible. This will entail understanding the audiences that the organization or the business intends to reach. There are many audiences that will need the information during and after the occurrence of a crisis, and these audiences will have different needs for the information (Bernstein & Bruce, 2011). The duty here will be recognizing the potential audiences, establishing their requirement for the information and finally figuring out the best person within the organization to communicate with the identified audiences. Some of the potential audiences to an organization include customers, employees and the families of the employees, survivors of the crisis and their families, the community, the media, the management of the company, investors, directors, suppliers, regulators, and government officials.
The contact information for all each audience should be compiled and information should be immediately transformed to those audiences. The information transformed to the contacts should include as much information as possible. Customers should be considered as a top priority when contacting the audiences because the life of any business is always in the hands of the customers. The management is another body that should be prioritized at the top in when contacting the audiences (Bernstein & Bruce, 2011). There should be immediate notification to the management in the event of a crisis, no matter the time of the day. This should also be the case with the stakeholders, the investors, and the directors. The management plus all these individuals should not learn from the media about the occurrence of a crisis but should instead be informed as early as possible.
Communication with the regulators and the government officials depend with the seriousness and the nature of the incident. If the incident is severe, then there is a need for immediate notification to the regulatory authority and the government officials. The human resource has the obligation to communicate the incident to the employees and their families. He has the duty to coordinate communications with the management, the employees, through the supervisors, and the families of the employees. He should also communicate with the department involved with the care and provision of benefits to employees. In cases of a serious incident e.g. death, there is a need for coordination between the human resource, the spokesman of the company, the management and the public agencies. Should the community be exposed to hazards, then it becomes a vital audience. If the incident is very serious then the media should be on the scene to obtain details. This strategy of distributing information to the audiences emphasizes a structural dimension as it describes how the organization would structure itself to ensure that information reaches all the relevant audiences.
A crisis damages the reputation of an organization. There is hence a need to repair the damaged reputation. In an attempt to repair the reputation, the organization should be more focused on accommodating the victims of the crisis than addressing the concerns of the organization. The crisis manager should confront any individual or group who may claim that something is not correct within the organization (Galloway, Christopher, & Kwamena, 2005). He should then assert that there is no crisis and blame some other persons or groups for the occurrence of the crisis. The manager should also assert that the organization meant to do well despite the crisis. He should continually remind the directors, and the stakeholders of the past success of the organization, and praise the stakeholders for their actions. Lastly, the manager should compensate the victims of the crisis with money and gifts, and offer an apology. The apology should indicate the organization’s intentions to take full responsibility for the incident and beg for forgiveness from the affected individuals and groups. This strategy emphasizes a cultural dimension as it aims at restoring peace and harmony within the organization and the community at large. Compensation to the employees and their families will create harmony and togetherness and hence strengthen the cultural ties between the organization and the community.
The business or organizations should strive to return to its usual business. Although the crisis still needs some attention, the business should not focus so much on it. The management should provide some follow-up information to the stakeholders concerning the crisis. This information helps the organization to prevent losing of trust among the members of public who may need the information. The management also needs to provide information about the process of recovery, corrective actions, and crisis’ investigations (Galloway, Christopher, & Kwamena, 2005). Occurrence of crises should be learning experiences to the managers. Therefore, after the crisis, the manager’s efforts require an assessment so as to evaluate what works and what need to be improved. The organization, through the management should seek for ways and methods to improve on prevention, preparation, and response in case of future crises. This strategy emphasizes both structural and craft dimensions. The manager requires knowledge and skills to determine what needs to be improved, hence a craft dimension. On the other hand, the whole of this process emphasizes a structural dimension as it aims at restoring the organization to the initial state that it was before the occurrence of the crisis.
Ways in which Bolman and Deal book applies to management of crisis
The book provides four frame models that provide four perspectives of understanding organizations. These four approaches include structural, political, human resource, and symbolic frames (Bolman, 2013). According to the structural frame leaders who intend on making change, using this approach lay focus on the structural elements within the firm or organization. They also lay focus on strategies, their implementation, and their adaptation. Changing the structures of institutions is effective when there are clear goals i.e. when the relationships between cause and effect are well understood. The framework is also effective when there is little conflict, ambiguity or uncertainty. This framework can be effective in solving crises in organizations. There is a need for development, implementation, and adaptation of a strategy in an attempt to solve crises in organizations. This therefore makes the structural framework essential in solving crises. The framework also works well when the goal is clear. When solving crises, the goal of the management is clear, as the management focuses on solving the crisis. Therefore, the management can use structural framework so as to achieve success. The presence of a crisis generates conflicts or uncertainty. Based on the fact that structural framework works best in the presence of uncertainty, conflict, or ambiguity then the management can effectively use this framework to solve crises that may be facing the organization.
Human resource is another framework that the book discusses. This framework postulates that leaders’ focal point is the people when focusing on change based on this frame. The approach stresses support, staff development, empowerment, and responding to the needs of the employees. This framework can be applied effectively in solving crises in organizations for various reasons. In the event of a crisis employees may suffer e.g. from injuries. It is the duty of the human resource to look into the wellbeing of the employees. In this case, the human resource has a responsibility to look into the needs of the employees by compensating them (Bolman, 2013). A crisis may also result to psychological suffering of the employees. This would call for support, both from the management and other professionals. The human resource has a duty to ensure that the employee gets that support. For these reasons, therefore, the management in case of a crisis can apply human resource framework.
Bernstein, Jonathan, and Bruce Bonafede. 2011. Manager’s guide to crisis management. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Bolman, Lee G. 2013. Reframing Organizations Artistry, Choice, and Leadership. Hoboken: Jossey-Bass.
Galloway, Christopher, and Kwamena Kwanash-Aidoo. 2005. Public relations issues and crisis management. Southbank, Vic: Thompson / Scoial Science Press.
Hill, Carolyn J., and Laurence E. Lynn. 2009. Public management: a three-dimensional approach. Washington D.C., Congressional Quarterly Pres