The angels and demons of crisis management

By business author and Purple Cubed founder, Jane Sunley

The angels and demons of crisis management is also available as a podcast. You can listen to it here:

There were a fair few comments about a statement I made at the end of a previous blog to do with employee satisfaction and loyalty levels rocketing as a result of their employers having taken an empathetic, kind and caring approach towards dealing with the current crisis. It stands to reason that if you look after your people they will remember and appreciate the effort long after the current crisis is over. 

This morning our Purple Cubed team, during one of our check in sessions together (via Zoom of course)were discussing the various reactions to Covid-19 of people we know. Currently organisations seem to be falling into two distinct camps. There are those who see the big picture, are in it for the longer term, put their people first and are of the ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality and therefore looking for opportunities to contribute to the greater good. And those who are negative, insensitive and going down the knee-jerk reaction route. Some emerging commonalities of the former group: 

  • Empathy – putting themselves in others’ shoes  
  • Taking a common sense and optimistic approach  
  • Realising ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’ and acting only as and when information is released 
  • Keeping ‘in the now’, rather than worrying about what might (or might not happen)
  • Showing true leadership by putting their people first 
  • Learning and resolving to change things for the better when we’re out of all this  
  • Reviewing every situation carefully and making the best response they’re able to 
  • Using their creativity to do things differently and for good 
  • Staying true to their values 

Putting energy into positive words and deeds is the right thing to do, though the public relations aspects cannot be under-estimated. People have long memories. The good deeds (and the bad) will be recollected long after the current crisis is over. Take Leon Restaurants, who, amongst other great approaches, are currently spearheading the Feed NHS initiativekeeping true to their values and providing their employees with purposeful and inspiring work. Or fashion retailer Zara whose factories in Spain are currently busy at work manufacturing hospital gowns and facemasks. And Brewdog who are manufacturing free ‘Punk’ hand sanitiser instead of beer.   

Contrast these great news stories with the horrendous PR reaped by Britannia Hotels when, in response to Covid-19, they sacked 12,000 employees across 61 hotels (by letter), in the process making many live-in employees homeless overnight. And WeWork who faced bitter criticism for continuing to charge rent to its New York City clients despite a city-wide lockdown that prevented tenants from accessing the space. Here are more examples of the angels and the demons. 

Many of these examples are from the hospitality industrya sector constantly plagued by labour shortages. Well I think you can guess who today’s employees, who are largely motivated by purpose, making a difference and contributing to the community, will be flocking to work for in future.  

It’s not just about companies taking action though. Every individual can make a difference. Perhaps an unlikely hero, McDonald’s franchise manager, Kevin Foley, was ‘discovered’ as a superman via Facebook comments made by one of his employees. And the whole country seems to have fallen in love with 99 year old army veteran Captain Tim Moore, who’s raised £18m (and counting) for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden. There are so many volunteering and find-raising opportunities.  

Everyone can do their bit – how about you? 

2020-05-01T09:40:52+01:00 April 20th, 2020|