Crisis Management Training Program
Training & Learning

7 Scenarios to Include in Your Crisis Management Training Program

Crises can hit when you least expect it. Just look at the year 2020. While companies may not be able to predict every emergency with precision, they can prioritize certain scenarios to prepare for in advance. This is where crisis management training comes in.

From PR emergencies to global catastrophes, crisis management training can help mitigate negative outcomes, keep employees confident, and ensure your business stays agile in the face of a challenge.  

A crisis management training program outlines a series of scenarios you want employees to be familiar with, and steps they should take. When thinking about the types of scenarios to include in your crisis management trainings, your first question might be, “What do I need to prepare for?”

The answer wild depend on the type of business you have. However, there are common scenarios many organizations should be prepared for—and in this post, we outline seven.

7 Scenarios to add to your crisis management training program 

1. Outbreaks and pandemics 

We saw how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the world’s economy, disrupting business and life as we know it. Though the coronavirus was massive in scale, smaller outbreaks occur with reasonable frequency, and it’s not unlikely that a fresh outbreak or epidemic will affect your business. It pays to be prepared.

Here are some helpful questions to prepare for a training for this type of scenario:

  • How are you defining an “outbreak” (especially if in a smaller scale, i.e. within your company or community)?
  • What is the very first thing your company must do at the sign of an outbreak, epidemic, pandemic, or similar?
  • Which key decision makers must communicate and meet to discuss next steps? Is there a clear process to allow them to discuss key steps remotely?
  • How will you ensure an easier transition to remote work when needed? Is there a plan in place that can be quickly and easily deployed? Will new hires be trained on how to do this?
  • How else do you support your employees that may need to work from home? Are there learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic you can use to put in place measures for the future?
  • What extra measures will you take to make sure you can meet the needs of all your major stakeholders?
  • When does your company determine when it’s safe to report back into the office again? What resources or organizations will you look to?

2. Natural disasters 

Even if you personally aren’t working in an area that’s prone to typhoons, earthquakes, or tsunamis, it’s still wise to be aware of what natural disasters any employee of your company might be exposed to. The 2021 Texas power crisis, for instance, was unique and largely unforeseen, yet had a major impact on the state’s inhabitants.

Farther afield, countries with areas in the ring of fire, like Japan and New Zealand, have long been aware of earthquakes being a regular natural occurrence they must prepare for. Because of this, these countries have been able to adapt with architectural changes and regular crisis training drills.

Review the likelihood of natural disasters that may occur in your company’s location—and if you have a remote and global team, consider that their areas may be prone to different events.

Once you’ve identified the probability of each natural disaster, you can work on the action steps you’ll take in the rare event they happen. What do employees need to know if a natural disaster happens at work or strikes at their local area? How might your company support them and their families?

3. Organizational crisis 

Many remember the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data scandal of 2018. This event arguably rekindled public interest in data and consumer privacy and the way companies manage the information they collect about consumers.

In an organizational crisis, you might not be able to predict specific emergencies, but it would be wise nonetheless to prepare for any event that might put your company in a major organizational crisis.

Start with listing what measures your internal team can take, then what employees need to know about your next steps. 

For example, you can create a response team to help create and disseminate your company’s response to the crisis as well as who will serve as the company’s spokesperson. That way, everyone in your organization will not only know how and what to respond, but also who they should reach out to for clarifications, concerns, and questions.

At this time, you can highlight measures for confidentiality, and assign persons in your organization who will be the source of any information moving forward.

While you can’t predict the exact organizational crisis and cause you might encounter, you can still make a repeatable plan that you can adapt in the event it happens. Most importantly, you’ll want to prepare measures for how you will prevent the same organizational crisis from happening—remember, the aftermath of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal cost both involved parties.

4. Customer complaints posted on social media 

Did you hear about the General Mills and Cinnamon Toast Crunch PR crisis involving the man who found shrimp tails and what may have been rat droppings in his cereal box? The company’s response to the man’s social media complaints is a prime example of what not to do when a customer complains online.

This example is an extreme example, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for customer complaints, big and small.

Consider building the answers to the following questions into your crisis training program:

  • Can you create a playbook of social media responses and action steps for the most common complaints people may post about your products or company?
  • If a common social media complaint is not included in this list, what is the first thing your employees managing your accounts should do? Who should they elevate the concern to?
  • How can you ensure that all the most important details and information are not lost when elevating the issue to other company members?
  • What are measures you must always take to ensure your customers feel heard and understood?

5. Hacking and security breach 

As businesses have migrated online, it’s not uncommon to hear of news about cyberattacks. In fact, you might even recall an instance where a company sent out an email about a recent security breach they experienced and what they were doing to fix the issue.

Cyberattacks can range from anything from companies accidentally downloading malware that ends up in their network, hacking a company’s social media accounts and website, or having confidential data—both the company’s and their consumers’—breached and, worse, leaked online.

The best case scenario is your company already has measures in place to prevent being victim to these attacks. The worst case scenario is you’re caught unprepared in the event that they happen.

Some steps you’ll want to include in this type of crisis management training program are how you’ll communicate the breach with any stakeholders. It’s best to be straightforward about the attack and what they might mean for your users. You may also want to include actionable steps any concerned parties need to take if they’re affected, including changing their passwords and more.

6. Unexpected downtimes 

Remember when Google experienced unprecedented downtime on their cloud services, and the whole world felt it? 

If you offer some kind of service your customer interacts with online, it’s not unlikely that you might encounter downtimes. For many software providers, they will often inform customers about scheduled maintenance hours that occur outside of working hours, but sometimes downtimes may occur unexpectedly.

Create a crisis management plan that deals with the steps your employees need to take if a downtime happens on your online tools and platforms. From having a website that won’t load down to experiencing any issue that prevents employees from accessing documents, it’s best to be prepared with contingencies and communication plans.

7. Product supply shortages 

Finally, your company may be in the product space. It’s not unlikely that a time comes when you run out of supply for a particular product. Whether it’s a logistical error or something your company couldn’t have controlled, you want your customers to know that you’re aware of the problem and that you’re doing all you can to make sure the products they want can reach them.

Aside from having a repeatable way of communicating about product supply shortages, you also want to have a repeatable process of dealing with them. Internally, your company can decide on backup plans, such as considering sourcing materials or products from contingency suppliers.

You may also have a process for rewarding customers for their patience. If this is applicable, include these steps in your crisis management training too, so employees will always know how to deal with unsatisfied customers and avoid fallout.

It pays to plan ahead

Nobody wants to think about a crisis, yet it’s a truth of business that they can occur any time. Because of this, it’s worth investing some effort creating solid crisis management training programs that will inform and prepare your company for emergency scenarios.

By using a Collaborative Learning approach, you can rely on the in-house subject-matter experts you already have on hand to build, refine, and deliver the crisis management courses you need. You can learn more about Collaborative Learning in our ebook, below: