Closure. It’s a word often used by therapists and TV talk show hosts as they help people work through bad breakups. It’s also a word that’s growing in popularity (and meaning) in the world of business continuity planning, especially as it relates to communications and the use of emergency notification technology.
Why? Experts say that the lack of closure leaves a situation in ambiguity. And, ambiguity is definitely not a good thing for organizations (or individuals) as they contend with business disruptions. Ambiguity adds to the complexity of already-difficult situations. It creates unnecessary angst and affects decision making. It hinders recovery.
So what’s needed for organizations to minimize ambiguity and bring closure to management, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders in critical events? As simple as it sounds, communication – end-to-end communication.
Consider the following five tips for ensuring critical event closure by keeping people better informed:
1. Don’t delay. Let people know as soon as possible that a situation exists. The initial message should come from a calm, reliable and immediately recognizable source – perhaps your CEO, a VP or department head. The message should prompt timely and appropriate action, as identified in your organization’s business continuity plan, not spawn questions or create confusion.
2. Be concise. While most will want to know all the details pertaining to the situation, it’s best to keep initial and subsequent messages short and to the point. Direct people to other sources, such as your inbound message board (a designated phone number to call for message retrieval or updates), IVR, website or intranet, for additional details. Also, take SMS limitations, i.e., character count and concatenation, into consideration, if sending messages via text.
3. Follow through. Tell people when and how they can expect to receive status updates, and make them available as promised. They’ll appreciate the consistent flow of information as they work to get the organization back on its feet.
4. Be mindful. Remember that some people may have been personally affected by the situation, and consequently may not be able to fulfill their duties completely within the organization. This does not mean, however, that they should be left out of communications pertaining to the event, particularly as it draws to a close. They may actually benefit the most from hearing the situation is improving or better yet, over.
5. Most importantly, circle back. Don’t just push information out and trust everyone will know when things have returned to normal. They won’t. Send one last notification, giving them the “all clear.” They’ll appreciate the follow through, and everyone will gain a much-needed sense of finality.
Closure, as noted by psychologists, is the “motivation to find an answer to an ambiguous situation.” It lends itself to healing, personally and professionally, and helps individuals and institutions to better prepare for the next disruption.
As a business continuity professional, you know the detrimental and potentially long-term effects a crisis can have on an organization. These may apply to processes, people and potentially, profits. Don’t let uncertainty creep in and leave people asking questions like “What now?” and “Is everything going to be okay?”
At Send Word Now, we urge you to take time out to review your current strategy and apply these five simple, but meaningful closure oriented tips for end-to-end communication. _