Establish and practice a crisis management plan

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Practicing martial arts helps to prepare you mentally and physically for dealing with an adversary. The more you train, the more proficient and capable you become to defend yourself. How about your business? Is it ready to respond effectively to an adversary if a crisis hits? A business related crisis can come at you in various ways, how it is managed may have either negative or positive outcomes. According to Risk Management Essentials, “a crisis may be damaging to the organization's reputation, yet in others, the crisis is entirely self-contained. A crisis may be newsworthy and attract the attention of the media or it may be simply noted and forgotten almost as soon as it becomes known. It may be entirely unpredictable or largely anticipated.”

To that end, a quote from John Rennie posted in Scientific American sums it up best. “In a crisis, you don't rise to the occasion. You sink to the level of your training.”

How prepared are you to manage a business crisis? Do you have a plan in place?

According to the Insurance Institute of America, the following information is most often included in a crisis management procedures manual:

  • The purpose, scope, and organization of the manual
  • The structure of the crisis management hierarchy, including the chain of command, composition, and general responsibilities of the emergency teams appointed
  • Evacuation instructions, including explanations of alarm signals and diagrams of exit routes
  • Loss prevention and loss reduction procedures organized by peril (natural, human, or economic) and separated into pre- and post-event measures
  • Procedures, addresses, and telephone numbers for contacting the fire department, police, medical services, pollution-control personnel, and other sources of help, including senior management
  • Communication procedures during and after the emergency, especially procedures to notify employees of progress towards resuming operations. Also addresses who will manage media inquiries.

To support your ability to respond to a crisis, assign specific responsibilities to staff members so there is no confusion about who should evacuate employees, records, and crucial business equipment.

Very importantly, have a backup plan in case critical personnel are out at the time of a catastrophe.

Know ahead of time what you need to take with you in an emergency. Identify alternate power sources and evaluate the crisis response capabilities of your vendors.

You can learn more about crisis management by visiting Markel’s Loss Control resources library. 


  • Risk Management Essentials. Austin, TX 2009.The National Alliance Research Academy.
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