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I was saddened to hear that my friend Mike Miller and his family were killed in a horrible car crash last week. Those of us in the DFW Business Community were shocked over the tragedy and dealing with the loss of a good man and his loving family. Tragedy is a part of life but we are often not prepared to handle it, and sadly, it seems to be more prevalent today than ever. How are you and your team prepared to handle tragedy when it hits?

Your company should already have a standard “Disaster Recovery Plan” that anticipates what you do if a fire breaks out, a key vendor closes their business unexpectedly, or your information system has a complete meltdown. You also need to be prepared to deal with disasters outside your company that 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 can have on your employees, their ability to focus at work, and prevent them from being distracted with the fear of 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 want 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. If you want a place where your team feels they are valuable, your response to tragedy in the lives of other employees will let them know what they can expect from you in the future.

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, and not bottle them up to 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 place 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 help them deal with 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.

“Prepare for Emergencies; they are your Chance to Shine”

Photo by Eric DraperGreat leaders are not born out of tragedy, they reveal themselves during tragedy. You are a great leader. 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.

Do you have a Disaster Response plan in writing? Have you had to implement one before? I’d love to know your experience in this area and how you successfully handled a difficult situation to lead your team onward.

Comment below or email me 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?

@REFDallas