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Crisis Management: How to prepare your staff for the worst



The staff member involved in last week’s terrifying armed-hold up at a Melbourne 7-Eleven convenience store admitted that the incident has left him traumatised.

And why wouldn’t you be…

Check out the chilling CCTV footage for yourself as the gunman points his weapon towards the staff member’s head before taking off with a lump of cash.

With over 1,200 armed robberies occurring across a wide variety of business types in the last financial year in Victoria alone (VicPol Crime Stats 2013/2014), the chances of one or many of your staff having to ensure an ordeal such as the one above are more than possible.

So how do you prepare your staff for the worst-case-scenario in crisis management?

The topic might be a traumatising and challenging one but fortunately the path to a solution is relatively straight-forward.

1. Get buy-in from your staff

“What could possibly go wrong?”

“Surely it could never happen to us?”

These phrases are thrown around all-too-often and highlight the naivety of many Australian businesses and institutions. As a business owner or staff manager, you might be aware of the dangers of not being fully prepared for what may lay ahead – but do your staff share the same concern?

If you want your staff to take serious note of your crisis management plan, you need them to buy-in to the consequences of not adequately preparing for a crisis. These consequences may vary from personal harm to severe reputational damage for the wider business.

2. Run a Crisis Management Workshop

Having the best crisis management plan going around isn’t much use if your staff – the ones who’ll be enacting it if a crisis were to occur – don’t understand it.

Equipping your staff to handle a crisis must involve more than wheeling your 300-page crisis management plan to their desk on their first day and mandating that they read it; firstly: that’s unlikely and secondly: if they do, it’s likely go in one ear and out the other. Solution: Run through it with them personally, building the correct context and ‘work-shopping’ your plan’s various procedures, templates, and forms.

3. Run a live scenario test

Having the right plans in place is important but in the heat of the moment, how will your staff react?

If their human, they’ll undoubtedly be under some stress – which is why we strongly recommend running through regular live scenario tests as part of your crisis testing for staff.

Run these often enough and when a crisis hits, your staff will reel out your crisis management plan’s procedures like it’s a walk in the park.

4. Review and Audit

Whether you’ve just experienced a real-time crisis or you’ve been running live scenario testing and training – it is important to allocate time and resources towards reviewing how your crisis management plan played out.

When you do – it is imperative that you involve your staff in the process. Doing so will likely improve the practicality of your plan(s) as well as contribute to their buy-in.

5. Lead from the front

From helping your staff understand the importance of preparing for the worst to the application of your plans in the heat of a crisis and post-crisis recovery – your staff will be craving strong and ‘enabling’ leadership.

This extends both to your customers and/or stakeholders; in the midst of a crisis, they’ll be looking for reassurance that you’re on top of it and are determined in your search for a solution and the return to business as usual.

If you’re looking for help in running Crisis Management Workshops or Live Scenario Tests, or would like help building or reviewing your crisis management plan – here at BC we provide specifically tailored services for all of the above, built from over 20 years of industry experience in crisis management. For more information on the services that we can help you with, click on one of the hyperlinks above, have a look through our website, or get in touch with one of our consultants today – we’re here to help you.

Facts about the recent armed hold up at a Melbourne 7-Eleven store were taken from an article in the Herald Sun on February 26, 'Armed Man Terrifies Staff During Convenience Store Holdup in Werribee'.

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