Quickly Assembling and Organizing your Crisis Team is Critical to the Success of Your Response. A Crisis Coordinator is Essential!
What is a Crisis Coordinator?
Each member of a crisis team has a functional role – e.g. Corporate Security, Human Resources, Corporate Communications, etc. The Crisis Coordinator plays an organizing and facilitating role for the team allowing the functional leads to focus on the specific priorities and tasks for their function. In fact, the Crisis Coordinator should not have a functional role to play during a crisis to enable them to focus on organizing the team, information and actions.
Organization is Key to Success
The crisis team activation process must be determined in advance. Some teams use an emergency notification system, text, or an internal system. The Crisis Coordinator can be responsible for this process enabling the team lead to focus on the crisis event vs contacting the team members and reserving a conference room.
A myriad of information is coming in to the team: social and traditional media, reports from managers, information from law enforcement, and on and on. Information management processes help ensure the team understands the information and appropriately reacts to it. The Crisis Coordinator plays a key role by developing and managing the Master Events Log and Incident Action Plan. Without effectively organizing the information, the team can quickly become overwhelmed and potentially impede their decision making capability.
A cadence of briefing cycles should be established and managed throughout the event. The Crisis Coordinator can plan and facilitate the briefings. A best practice is to have a network of Coordinators for the various crisis teams, and they will liaise to establish the cadence and sequence for the briefings.
What are the characteristics and skills needed to be an effective Crisis Coordinator?
An effective Crisis Coordinator can come from any function within the organization as they are not there to represent their function on the team. It’s more important to get someone with the right skills and aptitude for the role. Someone with project management experience is a great candidate as they are skilled in taking a lot of information and organizing it into a tactical plan. A person who stays calm during the chaos, is comfortable working with senior leaders, and has a thorough understanding of the organization and will make a great Crisis Coordinator. Look at your talent pipeline, it’s an opportunity for senior leaders to see an emerging leader perform under pressure.
The Crisis Coordinator: Before and After
In addition to organizing the team during the crisis, the Crisis Coordinator plays a critical role before and after the event.
- Facilitate regular horizon scanning sessions
- Conduct training, onboarding for the crisis team
- Ensure teams routinely exercise
- Maintain the crisis management plan, team roster, stakeholder register
- Organizes documents for retention
- Facilitates Lessons “to be” Learned
- Ensure remediation actions are implemented
The Crisis Coordinator role is a valuable and essential member of the crisis team. This role helps improve the team’s effectiveness and efficiency. Be sure that you have someone identified (and a backup!) to be the Crisis Coordinator for your team.
Leanne is a consultant and trainer with PreparedEx and the International Crisis Management Conference. Previously she lead development and implementation of a global business continuity program for Mead Johnson Nutrition. She has conducted exercises and training throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.