6 Keys to Assembling a Crisis Management Team

Jul 18, 2022
Zachary Amos
Implementing a strong crisis management team is how companies remain successful if a disaster occurs. However, many small to medium enterprises do not have one. If they do, they might lack the knowledge or have ineffective resources.

In fact, 95% of company leaders say their crisis management capabilities need improvement.

Unprepared companies might face delayed or poor decision-making, consequently impacting recovery and reputation. For example, a data breach can cost $8.19 million on average when a business isn’t ready.

Here’s how to effectively build a solid crisis management team.

What Is a Crisis Management Team?

A crisis management team (CMT) is a collaborative group responsible for preparing responses to potential emergencies. It’s accountable for executing and coordinating reactions during an incident or catastrophic event.

Crisis management is also about handling unforeseen events that could cause irreparable damage. It involves a team that can react flexibly and make prompt decisions.

According to research, 50% of the workforce is not entirely engaged with their work. A CMT must be willing to collaborate and be committed to developing companywide solutions to be the most effective. 

Why Organizations Fail to Protect Core Assets

A successful crisis management plan incorporates organizational planning for risk management, emergencies, disaster recovery, and business continuity. However, many organizations fail to secure their assets properly for many reasons, including:

  • Thinking, “It won’t happen here”
  • Being unaware of the risks
  • Relying on poorly planned crisis responses
  • Ignoring the warning signs
  • Not making crisis management and preparedness a priority
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What You Need To Build the Right Crisis Management Team

Much effort and planning are needed to develop an effective CMT. Consider the following points.

1. Understand Crises

Before creating an effective CMT, your priority is to understand crises and how they can impact your business. 

It’s not just the role of your management team to understand what a crisis is — you, everyone in your company, and even your vendors must acknowledge it. They should also know how crises affect your organization, clients, stakeholders, and operations. Therefore, taking the time to understand situations is essential for preparedness. 

Then, embrace the role as an educator and share your insights with decision-makers.

2. Gather Team Members from the Appropriate Departments

Generally, you’ll need a team with one person from each department, such as information technology, human resources, communications, and more.

Your team may look something like this:

  • Team leader: Makes decisions on behalf of the company, like a senior executive.
  • Security director: Facilitates plan development, employee training, and crisis center establishment. Also serves as a primary information officer.
  • Financial director: Manages funding arrangements and disbursement of funds. Maintains records of the cost of the crisis and assesses the financial implications of each disaster.
  • Legal counsel: Advises on possible legal implications of corrective actions.
  • Media spokesperson: Communicates important details without disclosing proprietary information.
  • HR leader: Resolves human resources issues and assists information officers in reaching affected individuals and their families. 
  • Security specialist: Someone from outside the organization who educates the team about handling individual crises and advises during emergencies. Also conducts team debriefing after a problem.

3. Know the Qualities and Characteristics Best Fit for a Crisis Management Team

Crisis management requires people who have a unique skill set and temperament. Crises are extremely stressful. The best person for the role must be most effective under pressure. 

Other characteristics they must possess include the following:

  • Able to make informed decisions at the right time
  • Are confident but not egotistical
  • Are problem-solvers and tactical
  • Able to be calm and level-headed
  • Are collaborative and work well with others from different departments

A high-ranking person must have these qualities. Otherwise, they’re not a good fit for the CMT, even if they want to be on it.

4. Identify the Right People

Often, the best people for the crisis management team are the direct reports of senior managers. Another way to identify individuals fit for the role is to look for workers who come to the forefront during business continuity exercises

Most business owners know who is level-headed and capable of working well with others. Consider asking around each department to gather individual feedback. 

5. Have a Crisis Management Team Leader

Leadership is more valuable than ever during a crisis. Therefore, you’ll need a team leader — someone other than you or the CEO — and they must know the business thoroughly. It should also be someone who is committed to your organization. 

This may be easier said than done, of course. One report shows that 24% of respondents said leadership effectiveness and decision-making were among their most significant challenges in crisis management.

When choosing a leader, look for someone who can work with people at all levels across the organization. This person should have full authority over facilitating team meetings and take a consistent approach to promoting companywide collaboration.

6. Sign Off on the Team

Ensure you and senior leadership sign off on the crisis management team to finalize everything. Sometimes a high-ranking person is appointed due to political motives, even if they’re not the best fit. 

Consider adding a lower-ranking person from that department and ensure they possess the right skills to compensate for the missing knowledge and characteristics. 

Building a Successful Crisis Management Team

Preparing a team for everything that can happen to your organization is crucial. As soon as you understand the impacts of crises, you’ll learn that building a CMT can’t happen soon enough. 

Once you gather a successful team from all departments, your business will be ready to take on whatever disaster happens.

Zac Amos is the Features Editor and a writer at ReHack, where he loves digging into business tech, cybersecurity, and anything else technology-related. You can find more of his work on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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