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hurricane-sandyThere’s been a lot of tragedy in the news lately. Between the shooting in Houston at Lone Star College, the recent massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, and even the wide spread effects of Hurricane Sandy in late 2012, there are lots of reasons for our employees to be overwhelmed with fear.

Your company should already have a standard “Disaster Recovery Plan” that anticipates what you do if a fire breaks out or your information system has a complete meltdown. However, being the top executive of your company requires that you deal with disasters, even the ones that are outside your company. These events can have serious effects on the morale and performance of your team if not properly addressed.

As the leader of your company, you have the opportunity to address the effect these events have on your employees, their ability to focus at work, and not to be consumed with anxiety about “what may happen next?”

The reality is, you can’t control what goes on in the world, but how you respond to these tragedies as the Owner, CEO, or President, allows your team to experience the culture you desire to rule your company. If you want your culture to value human dignity and care for others, but you are not leading the charge in response to situations like these, your team can miss an opportunity to grow and affirm these principles.

When issues arise, take control quickly, before the situation controls you.

Lone Star College1.) Talk about it as a company – be real. Encourage people to share their feelings, rather than bottle them up and walk around like a ticking time bomb of fear and stress. Pull everyone together for a “de-escalation” meeting to keep things from getting out of hand. Let them know of the plans you have in place and remind them that you are there for them.

2.) Build a feeling of Safety – let them know what your company does to prevent similar tragedies at your location and review the relevant policies that are in place to protect them and make your workplace as safe as possible.

3.) Build a feeling of Family – let them know that you and the leadership team care about them personally, as much as the work they do. Let them know this is a place that cares about their “feelings” and validate the fears people may have, and offer them support to press through them.

Sandy Hook Elementary

4.) Do SOMETHING – you may not be in the area where the tragedy occurs, but you can send cards to people, care packages, or collect donations to help.  Click on the photo here to read a great article that lists all the things companies have done in the Connecticut area in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy as an example.

Whatever you chose to do, do it quickly to prevent the distraction of anxiety and fear, and to make your actions more effective.

5.) Have a response team and plan ready – and in writing. Tragedies like this will arise and you need a written plan of action to deal with things like the death of an employee, a natural disaster in your area, a fire in your building, a workplace shooting, or any number of other tragedies in your community. Determine who will take charge of dealing with these issues right away, and who has the authority to get things started so your response is timely and appropriate. Inc Magazine has a great article that will get you thinking about how to create your own disaster recovery plan if you need help getting this started.

“Watch out for Emergencies; they are your big Chance to Shine”

Photo by Eric DraperGreat leaders are not born out of tragedy, they reveal themselves during tragedy. You are a great leader. Now take the time to be prepared and make sure that whatever comes your way, you have a plan in place to handle it with excellence. The challenges we face as leaders can pull our teams together like never before. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Talk with the other members in your Renaissance Executive Forum Dallas group and ask them what plans they have in place that may make sense for your company. See what they have already dealt with and how you can learn from their experiences.

Please comment on this blog and share what plans you have in place to be ready for tragedy, or how you successfully handled a difficult situation to lead your team onward.

See you soon at our next forum meeting, call us with questions at (214) 347 – 0566, or email us at info@REFDallas.com

by Robert Hunt Forum Leader

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More links on Dealing with a Crisis

“Leading your Company through a Crisis.”

Crisis Management International

Do you have the right Business Insurance?

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