I haven’t learned to do anything really well without training and lots of practice. I suspect this is true for you in your personal and professional lives.
We all have areas in which we’re naturally more skilled, of course, but without mentors, teachers who have gone down the trail before us, those natural skills would not be refined to their full potential.
Makes sense, right?
And yet, we have observed some very illogical behavior, particularly at the C-Suite level, during our 30+ years of experience in the crisis management public relations field.
- Many organizations still don’t plan or train for crises at all, either rolling the dice that their “crisis number” doesn’t come up and/or wrongly assuming that they can “wing it” because of their combined skills.
- Even when organizations have gone to the effort (and cost) of developing or even getting initial training in the use of business continuity or crisis communications plans, most still engage in little to no ongoing training thereafter.
- Most organizations go through periods of significant personnel turnover and major operational changes, all of which can require modification of existing crisis plans and then re-training. The former happens sometimes, the latter – not so often!
- Too many organizations continue to turn incidents into crises, and minor crises into major ones, because their people simply aren’t ready to rumble.
Real training – e.g., using scenarios, exercises – is the only way to truly shake down any crisis plans past the “sit around a talk about it” stage. It’s also the only way to teach your crisis teams how to work together in a manner often significantly different from their day-to-day while maintaining at least some degree of responsibility for their “normal” jobs.
On the hopeful side, we have seen an increasing number of organizations – sometimes spurred by their boards of directors and/or their insurance companies – wake up to the need for crisis-specific training. If your organization is still asleep, I hope this was an alarm bell!