10 smart strategies for building a crisis-resistant enterprise

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Leaders of businesses and organizations might easily be forgiven for feeling as though they’re in constant crisis mode these days. Lingering effects from the pandemic, inflation, supply chain issues and labor shortages are converging to make running a company a particularly challenging effort.

The Business Journals

While leaders can’t control everything that’s happening in the world and the economy, they can take steps that make their organizations stronger and more resilient. Here, 11 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share smart strategies for building a crisis-resistant enterprise that every leader would be wise to take.

1. Reframe a ‘crisis’ as a ‘challenge.’
Start by redefining “crisis.” If every challenge is a crisis, you and your team will constantly be faced with making decisions that seem like do-or-die decisions. That kind of thinking is burdensome, stressful and overwhelming. Reframe “crisis” to “challenge” and emphasize using solutions that solve the challenge and any similar issues in perpetuity. – Brock Berry, AdCellerant

2. Beware of knee-jerk reactions.
Decisions impacting the entire organization should be made by a committee of two to three people. Once a decision has been reached, don’t communicate/announce it right away. Allow it to simmer for 30 minutes, an hour or a day, depending on the urgency. This gives you time to account for previously unknown variables and adjust accordingly instead of backtracking. – AJ Ansari, DSWi

3. Build a lean, proactive team.
As a business leader, you should know that your enterprise is only as good as your team is. Thus, you should make sure to build a lean, high-performing, proactive team that will be your right hand both when handling a crisis and when preparing for growth. Running a business is not a one-man show. Start building a reliable, motivated team right now if you haven’t done so already. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

4. Strengthen senior leadership teams.
Strengthen senior leadership and senior management teams. For 99.9% of teams, this means hiring a consultant to diagnose the teams’ effectiveness and the factors driving those results. One study has found that only 21% of senior leadership teams are effective. For organizations in constant crisis mode, this endeavor, if done well, reveals aspects of senior teams that may be driving that state and how to shape and sharpen change capacity. – Kim Baker, Vivid Performance Group

5. Invest in employee recruitment, training and development.
This may sound trite, but I’ve found the best way to address a crisis is to avoid it. Invest enough in recruiting, training and employee development to confidently empower employees to identify and mitigate a potential crisis. Investing similarly in product development and customer experience (service and support) should eliminate all but the greatest crisis outliers. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.

6. Maintain a mindset of steadiness.
Every leader needs to understand that nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. This allows leaders — and, subsequently, their teams — to respond to dynamically changing environments by maintaining a mindset of steadiness. Through this thought process, nothing becomes a crisis; rather, it’s just the next step that needs to be taken. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting

7. Create norms for daily tasks.
Work to create norms for the daily things that pull on you and pull you away from managing crises well. Make agreements on such details as how much email is OK and how many meetings are held, and push decision making down into the organization to create capacity. Also, reliance comes from experience. Experience builds judgment. Have a long-term play for developing judgment and perspective to enable resiliency. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates

8. Encourage and absorb feedback.
We know the importance of feedback loops; aircraft systems use them to maintain control and position in flight to stabilize for speed, wind direction and more. Similarly, the more feedback loops a company has internally and externally, the more stable it can be. Your organization can adapt with purpose by continuously encouraging and absorbing feedback about employees and the outside world. – Daniel Serfaty, Aptima, Inc.

9. Ensure that leaders have needed support.
Ensure that every leader is effective by giving them the right support to tackle the most important work. Take anything that can be off their plate so they can maintain focus and composure. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

10. Develop a culture of resilience.
In the business world, it’s not a matter of if a crisis will occur, but when. One key step is to develop a strong culture of resilience. This means creating an organizational culture that values learning from mistakes and encouraging employees to take calculated risks. It also means having clear policies and procedures in place so that employees know what to do in the event of a crisis. – Adam Toren, RaisingEmpoweredKids.com

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