As much as we might wish it, crises aren’t always predictable. There are those that we can anticipate, for which thoughtful organizations have a regularly updated crisis management plan. There are also those that destabilize and threaten the survival of our organization.

We saw an example of the latter type of crisis last year, a once-in-a-generation event that came out of nowhere.

It’s rare to see society, individuals and organizations go through a collective crisis with such profound impacts to our professional and personal lives. A crisis that persists and evolves, without any break, and with no clear end in sight.

As the New Year allows us to reflect on our response to the pandemic and plan for the coming months, one thing is clear: success will come through collaboration. This includes sharing expertise, of course, but it also means giving each other human and moral support, even remotely.

Overcoming the “feeling” of urgency through dialogue

Managing a crisis means reacting to a situation that forces us to set aside our plans and priorities to limit its impact. However, successful crisis management also means knowing how to get past it. Sometimes a crisis will resolve on its own. In other cases, we must find a way to overcome the sense of urgency it creates, even as the events go on.

While stress can drive innovation and resilience, it can also cause an organization to forget its long-term strategic objectives. Ironically, the skills required to cope with the worst situations can prolong their effects by making us lose sight of what is important to what seems urgent. Taking the time to talk about our perspectives, successes and failures, and the impact of events on our state of mind and on our organization is essential to take a step back that’s necessary for any planning effort. It’s not about denying the challenges that await us, but rather about knowing how to distinguish the elements over which we have power from those that are beyond our control, and, in the process, allowing ourselves to shift from reactivity to real action.

Engagement to take (back) the lead

We’ve talked more about internal communication in the last ten months than in the last ten years, for several great reasons.

The first one is human, and based on values shared by most organizations, such as respect, consideration, and care for our employees and partners, as an employer, but also as a colleague.

The second is strategic. Talent is at the heart of any organization’s success. Committed, reliable, professional, creative employees are essential— even more so in times of crisis.

Paying attention to your employees, to their physical and mental health, and managing the transformation of their work environment, both physical and virtual, is the key to their commitment, and will be critical to your future success.

Major crises change both people and organizations. Some team members have demonstrated underused skills, while others have developed new ones.

Your ability to capture this knowledge, and to understand and fulfill your people’s new aspirations, will become both an asset and a driver to position your organization and face challenges as well as to prepare for what’s next.

This will be another challenging year. The pandemic will not disappear overnight, and we have a journey ahead of us that will undoubtedly be longer than we would like it to be. “Alone we go faster, together we go further”: this saying has never seemed more relevant. Together, we can achieve our goals by making the adventure easier, more engaging and more enjoyable for everyone.

This article was authored by Martin Daraiche, President at sister company NATIONAL Public Relations.

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