Do you cringe every time you see a CEO in the news, sweating and struggling, because you fear you could be next? Are you afraid your organization isn’t ready to deal with a problem or full-blown crisis? Even worse, do you feel you are the only one who understands the seriousness of the situation? Take heart my friend, this edition of the Monthly Memo will provide you with strategies and suggestions to help.
A seat at the table: The more you are able to build on your personal credibility, the more people will listen to you. Most every group I speak to hears the importance of having “a seat at the table.” When important steps are being considered in your organization are you at the table? If not, how do you get a seat? A big part of it is how you are viewed within your organization. Some people earn their seat because of their job title, but others are there because they have developed the personal credibility which makes them indispensible. Be that person. Carry yourself as a complete professional. Dress the part. Act like a leader. Be sure you have the information, background and research which can back up your points and if an issue is being overlooked by others find a diplomatic way to raise the issue — complete with some possible solutions. Map your strategy today to move from being ‘the Marketing girl’ or ‘that guy from HR’ to someone with a name and a real plan to help the organization.
Current events as warning signs: Let’s look at the recent Northwest Airlines situation as an example. A NWA flight goes 150 miles past its destination and crew members blame the mistake on being distracted by their laptops. (I still don’t believe it, but that’s another story.) What have you heard from Northwest Airlines? The company is now owned by Delta and a visit to the company’s Web site offers only the sparest of explanations. NWA has become a punch line. Can you see a scenario where a similar public embarrassment could affect your company?
Recruiting others to the cause: When stories pop up in the headlines motivate others by painting a picture that plays off of those events. Get colleagues to realize this kind of thing happens all too often. Also, explain the impact a public embarrassment will have on their department or division. Next, offer solutions and resources which can set your organization up as a leader and shining example when (not if) something happens.
We don’t have the budget to do that now: Not every step in preparing for a problem comes with a big price tag. A day of training for staff can be priced very reasonably. Resources are available on the Web. Offer a mix of solutions which take budget items one step at a time. And finally, point out how expensive a bungled crisis can be to your organization. One poorly handled incident can mean EVERYONE loses their job!
If you are on Linked In, join my colleague Rich Dubek and me at Media Training 101. We will have weekly discussion points and tips for those who work regularly with the news media.