In a crisis situation at your facility, you will react as you have been organized and trained to do. Knowing what to do can be the difference between chaos and calm, or even life and death. A crisis can happen anytime, anywhere, to any organization, and while some may be predictable, others come on unannounced.
Incidents involving natural or man-made disasters are often characterized by a high degree of instability and the potential for rapid changes over a short period of time. Left unmanaged, they can create extremely negative results to life, property, and the company’s reputation.
Successful crisis management starts when security professionals realize bad things happen to good companies. It helps to gather your response protocols into modular forms, with pre-prepared options for the potential possibilities of harm to life and property. This could include weather events, hazardous materials incidents, and facility problems like gas leaks. While workplace violence in incidents and active shooter situations are thankfully rare, they are catastrophic nonetheless. More likely might be a line-of-duty death involving an employee who has a serious medical emergency, or who is injured or killed by equipment, or in a vehicle while at work. Depending on the type of facilities (and the age of the building), fires could be possible or highly unlikely. Attacks to the company’s Internet and intranet services, from insider threats or outside hackers, can create serious consequences to the company’s near and long-term viability.
Each of these events are not usually predictable, but they are always on the horizon. As such, security directors and managers need to be familiar with the basics of crisis management and crisis-driven leadership. One working model is the six C’s, which can help with the strategic application of the right steps, at the right time. These include:
Command: Who is in charge, and can that leader create the necessary presence to make tough decisions under the stress of the moment?
Containment: How will the crisis leader and the designated team isolate the problem to keep it from affecting the entire facility and protect all employees, the physical and intellectual property, goods, and services?
Control: How will the crisis leader manage the event, the response, the communications with other stakeholder departments, be able to liaison with outside experts or first responders, and manage the media, if necessary.
Coordinate: How will the crisis leader manage the necessary immediate and longer-term goals and objectives to see they are fully met? How will the leader get managers, employees, and other departments and teams to apply the resources that should have already been preestablished, like evacuation routes and stagings, mass messaging, and media relations.
Communicate: What information needs to be shared, by whom, to whom, how, and when?
Critique: When the situation is over and resolved, can the crisis leader critique the response and provide feedback, admit to mistakes made, and offer lessons learned to senior management?
Crisis management is not about predicting the future; it’s about preparing for it. Under stress, people respond how they have been trained, at every level in an organization. If it hasn’t been discussed, it won’t get done or done safely and correctly.