Yesterday’s earthquake hit hard in Alexandria, Va. I thought it did anyway. West Coasters might have thought me a bit of a wimp as I scampered out, convinced the building was about the cave in.
If your workplace was hit by the earthquake, it probably threw your workday for a bit of a loop too. Learn from the experience so you can be better leader next time. Here are some suggestions for effectively dealing with the next minor crisis that comes your way:
- Pay attention to people’s reactions. Discovering how various members of your team react to a crisis gives you powerful insight into their strengths and weaknesses. Who remains calm? Who breaks down in tears? Who breaks the tension with a good joke? Who takes on a leadership role? All reactions are legitimate, but it’s good to know who you can rely on to stay strong during the next crisis—whether it be environmental or work-related.
- Provide access to information. In a central location, turn on the TV or radio to a news station. Let people satiate their desire to understand what happened. When a dramatic or unexpected event occurs, no one will be able to focus on work if they’re worried about friends or family or even if they’re just really curious about what happened. If there are customers in your workplace, they will appreciate easy access to the news, so share it with them too.
- Announce your return to work. Once you know enough about the situation to understand that you don’t need to take further action, you can return to work. Don’t just slip out, though. Cue your staff by saying, “All right, I’m headed back to work. I’ll be in my office if you need me.” That will prompt other team members to return to their workstations as well. If you’re facing an approaching deadline, that’s worth reminding your team about too: “We’ll still have to meet Friday’s deadline, and I know everyone wants to get back to their families at a reasonable time tonight, so let’s try to refocus.”
- Evaluate your emergency procedures. In many ways, experiencing a minor crisis is a blessing, because it gives you an opportunity to gauge the effectiveness of your emergency plans. Did your team know the plan? Did everyone follow it? What if it had been a major crisis? What potential problems might you have had? If you’re not confident in your current plan, learn how to strengthen it with this audio conference: “From a Small Disaster to a Worst-Case Scenario: Not Planning for the Disaster Makes the Emergency Worse.”
How did yesterday’s earthquake affect your workplace?