Use a Crisis to your Advantage
The leader of the recovery process can use special events that are viewed as crises by stakeholders as a tool to drive change. Such crises might include:
- Bond rating downgrade
- Closure of major employer/taxpayer
- Change in elected or appointed leadership.
Using a Crisis is Not without Risk
The recovery leader that considers using crises as a lever for change should be aware that:
- A crisis can mask the depth and breadth of the true causes of distress. A crisis is frequently just the most visible symptom of distress, rather than the root cause.
- The nature of the crisis can color the responses people will want to take to recovery. For example, the closure of a major employer could lead stakeholders to focus on economic development issues, when in fact the current fiscal distress is caused by an unrelated factor.
- People might adopt a siege or bunker mentality, making change and innovation less likely.
- Overplaying a crisis may reduce confidence in management if stakeholders perceive that the crisis was avoidable or at least foreseeable.
Reduce Risk by Framing Perceptions
Framing the perception of others is crucial.
- Carefully analyze the crisis event. If the recovery leader is knowledgeable about the crisis, then he or she will be a more credible interpreter of what is occurring. The leader can then frame the crisis as a call-to-action, and others will be less likely to interpret it as a panic-inducing disaster.
- Share information about the event. Making information available can reduce feelings of uncertainty among stakeholders and constituents.
- Provide information in a structured, guided format. This makes it easier for others to understand, allows it to reach a broader audience, and increases leader credibility.