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Is it time to ‘crisis self-check’, have you triggered a trap? By Paul McGlone

Many businesses have this week entered the next phase in their crisis management, where they pause for a moment and get the chance to reflect on some decisions made over the last couple of weeks. If you can, I urge you to stop for a moment and reflect on your ‘story so far’ to check the decisions you have made.

It is time for a crisis self-check!

It is natural to panic, at least a little, when confronted with a crisis. Even with all advice saying don’t panic, the primal instinct to ‘fight or flight’ can influence us. Over recent weeks, when confronted with many serious issues all business leaders have had to fight less useful instincts to make informed business decisions, while in most cases also juggling personal concerns and anxiety faced by everyone else in their own lives.

It would not be out of place for you to stop for a moment to recognise the scale of the challenge you have already managed to cope with, and be proud of yourself even if there is nobody by your side to congratulate you.

It is inevitable that following reflection some decisions you made can now be refined or changed…and even u-turning decisions is normally better than making the mistake of sticking with them!

If you had the power to make a decision you have the power to review it and change it!

Take this moment to check what you have done so far.

As a process, I would suggest that you think back to the point where you realised Coronavirus is not something that is going to only affect others, the moment where your stomach perhaps dropped and you realised the scale of the impact on you and your business. This is likely to be the moment you decided you need to act now!…and the point where decisions could be checked.

The days that followed for most business leaders contained the exhaustion of handling many emotions on top of any practical activity. There may have been some denial, confusion, and anxiety, while you also processed misinformation and significant decisions that will change the shape of your businesses future and the lives of your staff.

Work through each part of your business, work with a business coach such as myself as their objectivity and support can help, and think about the decisions made. You are likely to have prioritised cost and practicality, so now is also a good time to also check that your decisions are completely legal and ethical. Are you still proud of those decisions, or do they need to be adjusted?

Strong business leaders will ensure their company is still operating legally and ethically – a crisis does not mean that you will be forgiven for cutting corners later, or that poor ethical judgements will be forgotten or ignored.

Some of the most frequent traps I have seen, which are worth checking, include:

  • *  Have you completed a proportional form of risk assessments to ensure new home workers are working in an environment that is suitable, and taken measure to address specific health and safety, wellbeing or practical risks identified?
  • *  Have you addressed commercial and privacy risks for home workers who have sensitive documents now potentially sitting in people homes without the security you would apply in the office? You are still responsible for complying with your legal and commercial responsibilities for GDPR?
  • *  Have you protected all staff from personal privacy breaches? Have you managed the risk of someone giving out home addresses or other personal contact details, even for well-intentioned reasons? Seek written permission before you give out such information to other staff, suppliers or even clients.
  • *  Have you checked that you have applied the government guidance correctly? Check you are satisfying your duty of care to staff and 3rd parties. Based on the guidance valid when writing this lots of work away from home can continue or recommence if managed correctly. Remind yourself that once safety has been managed, you have a responsibility to protect your business which ultimately supports the economy and jobs. Avoidable damage to businesses and the economy will only lead to more hardship for everyone.
  • *  Have you presumed a government grant or loan will be available, there is a lot of small print to understand, and in most case to still be defined? The government issued some blanket statements of support, but there are conditions to satisfy. It would be a mistake to not check these apply to your exact circumstances.
  • *  Have you kept communication flowing with staff? Now is the time to create a communications plan to ensure that all staff are continuously engaged in the business, even if working from home or furloughed. Share, communicate, provide opportunities for staff to make suggestions, air concerns, interact with each other. A very very active day or two for you can feel like many weeks without support for someone stuck at home on their own.

The list of traps goes one, and there are many which are specific to particular businesses or industries. Complete a Crisis Self Check now and action the areas that need more attention. You can do this alone, with your team, or with external help….but do it so that your business is immediately stronger and better placed for the future.

Paul McGlone
Groveshaw Services Limited

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