In those first few moments of a fast-paced incident, it is essential that the Crisis Management Team (CMT) comes together quickly in an organized and disciplined manner. It is in these early stages of the incident when discipline is incredibly important. If discipline is lacking in the early stages of an incident, the management of the event and critical decision-making will often get worse before they get better.
Creating situational awareness is a key objective of the briefing cycle
One of the main objectives of the briefing cycle is to create situational awareness. To be able to create situational awareness, and maintain it, members of the CMT will have to receive and process a lot of information from multiple resources, often during the first few moments or hours of the incident. As the incident unfolds and becomes a crisis, it will create a dynamic and complex situation that requires the team to utilize its well-defined and well-practiced crisis management processes and tools. These processes and tools will help create a disciplined briefing cycle from the very beginning.
Related: 6 Steps to Creating a Capable Crisis Management Team
Control the chaotic conversation
Another aspect of creating a disciplined briefing cycle is to instill in the team the ability to remain calm throughout the crisis. To help with that, the CMT should be well rehearsed in the way they conduct the briefing cycle. As stated at the beginning of this article, the first few moments can be very chaotic and leaders will need to get a hold of the situation early. In almost every crisis simulation exercise that I have delivered throughout my career, the first briefing cycle is always disjointed and noisy. Many team members want to have their say and people start to talk over each other. This chaotic and unproductive situation is often due to the lack of practice with their briefing cycle process, the lack of leadership, or sometimes both. Having strong leaders on your CMT is important, but what’s more important is that leaders and crisis team members both understand and are well drilled in a disciplined briefing cycle process.
Show the stakeholders you’re in control
Finally, displaying that you have a well-oiled team during a crisis will be positively noticed by internal stakeholders such as the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and your employees who are an important stakeholder group. Additionally, external stakeholders who may have to be involved in the crisis will also notice that the team is well prepared. External stakeholders may include regulators, first responders and customers. Your CMT’s professionalism will display that your organization can handle the crisis effectively, which in-turn creates long term relationships and trust with all stakeholders.
During the crisis simulation exercises that I deliver, I will coach some leaders during the sessions to ensure they get the most out of the exercise, including the all-important team briefings.
When was the last time you tested your crisis management team and practiced the briefing cycle?
Contact me today to discuss how we can help your CMT become better prepared.
About Rob Burton
Rob is a Principal at PreparedEx where he manages a team of crisis preparedness professionals and has over 20 years of experience preparing for and responding to crises. Part of his leadership role includes assisting PreparedEx clients in designing, implementing and evaluating crisis, emergency, security and business continuity management programs. During his career Rob has worked for the US State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, as a crisis management consultant in Pakistan and Afghanistan where he negotiated with the UN and Pashtun tribal warlords and he served with the United Kingdom Special Forces where he operated internationally under hazardous covert and confidential conditions. Rob was also part of a disciplined and prestigious unit The Grenadier Guards where he served Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Palaces in London. Rob was a highly trained and experienced infantryman serving in Desert Storm and commanded covert operational teams and was a sniper. Rob has keynoted disaster recovery conferences and participated in live debates on FOX News regarding complex security requirements and terrorism. Rob has a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.
Welcome Sir! Keep doing great things!
Excellent article! While the public side, in an EOC, is a bit different than a corporate CMT, we are working through this process currently. We started with the ICS Planning “P” in a draft SOP and widdled it down slowly through exercises and discussions. We are finally getting to a sloid stepping off point.
We eliminated some of the planning meeting needed in Incident Command in the field which aren’t necessary in a small EOC. We built in a couple of extra briefings that have been missed in the past and the need to call “Attn in the EOC” to announce key incoming info.
We are also laying out our whiteboards to ensure an organized and consistent approach to data capture. This is then turned into Situation Reports (SitReps) locally and in the state WebEOC system.
I am confident this will take us to an improved and repeatable process.
Thank you, Dusty. Great information.