I was watching the breakfast news one day last week and there was an article about the treatment of interns whilst on assignments. In particular the article focussed on whether interns should get paid and effectively be treated like short term employees.

There was a strong and convincing argument put forward in the studio campaigning for all interns to be paid. Job done. It’s nailed on. The right decision is clear and we can all move on.

But no. This is England and for every view or opinion there is always an opposing standpoint to be put forward with equal vigour and commitment. In this particular example one of the opposing views was that rather than being paid, it should be the interns who pay the employers for the privilege of working for the organisation.

Now I’m all for healthy debate and always open minded about considering opposing views and ideas but the problem is a good debate takes time and effort before an outcome is decided.

In emergency or military type situations time is critical and the need to act quite literally makes the difference between life and death. There simply is no time for procrastination so the agreed and established process needs to be followed or someone needs to make a decision and give instructions.

I’ve written and spoken a lot about communication and one of the points I often make is that in certain instances someone needs to immediately take command of the situation and take the lead. I usually refer to someone ‘standing on a wall and shouting instructions to the crowd.’

The challenge a lot of organisations face is that many day to day decisions are arrived at through meetings and committees where several views are obtained and options considered. Because the people in an organisation are used to this approach – it’s what they do several times over each day – they approach Crisis Management in the same mindset. In other words they join the Crisis Management Team meeting and expect a healthy debate and time for reflection. ‘Hello!!! – your organisation has just come to a grinding halt, your people need direction and your stakeholders are wondering where you are!’ Reconvening next Wednesday just isn’t going to cut it. You need to cut to the chase and make your decisions.

Key to this is good leadership. The leader needs to be someone with sufficient knowledge, experience, authority and a high level of respect to make the right call and be able to secure the right action. The leader needs to be able to operate comfortably in the role knowing that the organisation will back them up on the decisions they make at the time.

So, there are certain attributes to look for in selecting leaders. Particularly in a crisis management context it’s important to select the right people. They may not necessarily be the most senior person in the organisation – it’s more important that they are a good leader.

I have worked with several Crisis Management Teams so if you require my advice or support on this topic please contact me.

September 23, 2013 at 8:20 am
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Category: Crisis Management
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