Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
A personal crisis doesn’t have to spell disaster for your business if you’re prepared. Every business occasionally endures a crisis, but what happens when your dilemma isn’t falling profits but personal.
Because we have no idea what type of personal crisis may await us – an ugly divorce, debilitating disease, or ailing parent/child/spouse, we must be prepared. Just as you plan for advertising and promotions, you must plan for life’s surprises.
Paul Krasinski, founder of Lion Strategy Advisors, New York, suggests finding somebody NOW who can take over your responsibility and carry on for at least 20 days. He/she needs to be someone who can communicate well with staff and command respect, and may or may not be the person you feel closest to in the company.
Once a personal crisis hits, Krasinski recommends “full disclosure” to your employees. This avoids the feeling of being hit by a bomb, and that business will go on as usual. In case you think this doesn’t work, let me give you a case history.
Dana Weidaw, 28 and president of her own PR firm had only been in business 1 year when she tested “full disclosure” with her employees. She was diagnosed with an aneurysm which required a surgeon to drill through her skull. She had just landed her first major client and was publicizing a major hockey arena. If all didn’t go well with the project, this client could turn out to be her last.
Before missing 7 days of work, Weidaw prepped her full-time employee, another agency she was working with, and her client by sharing the nitty-gritty details of her crisis. She assured them everything would run according to plans and smoothly in her absence, and found that everybody was willing to work around her crisis. Weidaw found that, by nature, people are very sympathetic.
A word of caution though, you need to know when to talk. During and after a crisis – full disclosure is great. If you’re “contingency” planning though, it might be prudent not to advertise that if your personal life goes in the tanker good old Gary or Suzy will be in charge. Your employees may needlessly dwell on why they weren’t picked to run the show instead of them. Above all, you don’t want to cause widespread distress or distract your staff from day-to-day operation.
Just as surely as you plan for financial allocations for your business, always have a crisis plan in place. This may need adjustments from year to year as staff leaves and are replaced, so when planning for each year’s business needs include your crisis plan.