We help companies develop management continuity plans in the event of disruption.
- If a key executive died in a car accident, how would your business be affected?
- If a plane flew into your office building, how would you communicate internally and externally to maintain calm and provide reassurance?
- In the aftermath of a disruptive event, could you quickly rebuild the human relationships with customers and suppliers that keep your business going?
- If someone who is vital to your business were suddenly gone, how would you avoid disruption?
- If several executive team members were suddenly ill with SARS or a previously unknown virus, how would you maintain viability and effectiveness?
September 11th, and its continuing fallout, was a wake-up call for many businesses that gave too little thought to carrying on effectively following disruption. The most successful companies tended to have:
- procedures in place to deal with people and facility disruption
- backup safety plans that were clearly articulated and rehearsed
- succession processes with detailed job analyses
- communication strategies and highly visible support from leadership
Most businesses do a reasonably good job planning for securing facilities and technology. Most also recognize the need to maintain workplace safety and to take care of employees following a disaster.
Very few businesses develop adequate management continuity strategies for key employees in the aftermath of disruption caused by natural (earthquake, flood, fire, tornado) or manmade catastrophe (criminal acts, terrorism, accident, promotion, defection, serious illness).
Management Continuity Planning Associates provides preventive and post-incident services to help you remain viable and effective following an unforeseen happening. A set of guidelines can be found below:
Post-traumatic Incident Response Guidelines
When a traumatic event happens in the workplace, whether it is a shooting, robbery or industrial accident that claims the life of an employee, the response needs to be multi-faceted and needs to unfold over time. When the sole response is to bring grief counselors to the scene, the situation might resemble one or more of the following:
- Having the brakes go out in your car while going down a steep mountain road and assuming that once you are off the mountain you will slow down.
- Hoping that rain will arrive in time to save your home from a wildfire.
- Ignoring a pain in your chest, and shoulder that is radiating into your arm and jaw because you are too busy to get a medical consult.
- Assuming the notice of an IRS audit will go away if you ignore it.
- Watching your sales decline and assuming a turn around if you wait long enough.
Traumatic incidents require immediate and on going professional interventions if they are going to be resolved without derailing your business. Every year many businesses fold because they weren’t prepared to deal with workplace trauma or because they didn’t respond with the right professional assistance. The aftermath of a workplace incident requires the expertise of specialized consultants who understand the issues associated with both trauma response and organizational consulting. The combination of these two fields will assure that your business has the best chance of surviving a traumatic event.
Organizational considerations following a human initiated traumatic incident
- Your organization will require an extended period of time to recover. Count on at least a year. Your employees may seem recovered before the year is up but will likely have periods of sadness or symptoms of anxiety for a prolonged period of time. This response is normal but may affect the level of functioning or morale in the organization.
- Safety issues will continue to be a primary concern. If a sense of security is not restored for employees and other stakeholders, maintaining economic viability will be difficult. Psychological variables are frequently more important to a sense of security than physical safety. However, addressing both issues will be critically important.
- Following an incident there is often a sentiment that someone is responsible and must be held accountable. Some of these feelings will target management directly or indirectly and employees may feel that management should have prevented what happened, even if there was nothing that could have been done. Management frequently takes the brunt of employees’ and other stakeholders’ anger and mistrust. Human initiated trauma appears to produce even more anger, guilt and mistrust than a natural disaster.
- No one is immune from the impact of trauma. Some people display more reactions initially while others tend to function well and go on as if nothing has happened. Everyone needs time and the resources to deal with trauma in their own pace and manner.
- Recovery goes on at different rates for those inside the organization as opposed to outsiders (customers, vendors, board of directors, off-site warehouse, office staff, etc.) which may cause difficulties. For example: Customers may wonder why some workers appear nervous or emotional three months after an event. For the customer the event is in the past and “people should be over it” but for the staff member the event is still current and they are still recovering.
- Management will be impacted by the incident and may feel responsible even if they are not. Management is likely to experience emotional and cognitive consequences that can affect their judgment and decision making. This outcome is to be expected at least in the short run.
Potential negative consequences
- Following an incident some organizations never recover and go out of business. A critical factor in their demise is not having a trauma management plan and not meeting the needs of all stakeholders: staff, management, customers, suppliers, financial partners, shareholders and the community.
- Long term consequences for organizations that survive can include the following internal problems:
- low morale,
- distrust of management,
- high employee turnover,
- medical problems and heavy utilization of medical services,
- poor customer service.
- Long term consequences for external stakeholders can include the following:
- safety fears leading to increased vigilance,
- customers staying away because of unpleasant reminders,
- questions surfacing about the financial viability of the organization,
- the organization becomes associated with the perpetrator.
- Not only can the sense of accomplishment and success diminish but the business may lose market share through increased costs, and decreased revenue over time.
- Trauma management after an incident is not a luxury but a business necessity.
- Trauma management addresses long-term problems by applying psychologically based management strategies to address the needs of all the stakeholders: staff, management, customers, financial partners, suppliers, shareholders and the community.
- When you engage the services of trauma psychologists you are hiring professionals who have distance from the trauma. This perspective helps managers assess the reactions of stakeholders from a neutral point of view. The outcome is a balanced plan that leads to effective action.
- The process begins with an assessment of the organizational and situational variables. The uniqueness of your organization determines the specific focus of the assessment. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Identification of assets that can be used in the development of a comprehensive trauma recovery plan is a key dimension. The inclusive plan will provide specific management tasks, training for mangers and other employees as well as additional integrated services.
- Our trauma management focuses on the stages of trauma recovery and the challenges that accompany each stage. For example, “anniversary reactions” frequently occur on the date of the event or other dates that are associated with the event. Planning for these reactions ahead of time is one method for developing trauma-resistant work teams. Attention to such factors can aid in organizational recovery.
- Trauma management services will keep your organization economically viable during and after an incident. These services can also strengthen the organization’s resilience (ability to bounce back) when facing other challenges.
- Before the next incident, engage in management continuity planning and pre-incident planning because it is cost effective, keeps your business viable and reduces suffering. This is a business necessity.