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Workplace Violence: Why You Need a Crisis Management Team

In the first part of our “Workplace Violence” blog series, we discussed this troubling and increasingly prevalent issue of workplace violence, along with highlighting the importance of being prepared for a very real yet unpredictable violent scenario taking place in your workplace. Which begs the question: How do you plan for something you can’t anticipate? The fact is that you can, and it all starts with the formation of a proactive crisis management team.

Why You Need a Crisis Management Team

From natural disasters to human-caused workplace shootings and acts of terrorism, workplace threats are an unfortunate fact of contemporary American life. The role of a crisis management team is to evaluate these potential threats and decide on future strategies aimed at seeing their organizations through any crisis toward minimal loss of life, damage control, and best possible outcomes.

What, specifically, does a crisis management team do? Detecting early signs of crisis; assessing a current or rising situation along with identifying specific problem areas; warning employees; and having a specific course of action in place are all parts of a crisis management team’s responsibilities.

And while workplace violence scenes are inherently chaotic, a well-trained crisis management team can mean the difference between uncertainty and sound, trustworthy decision-making.

Forming Your Crisis Management Team

Just as no two organizations are identical, nor are any two crisis management teams. Typically, crisis management teams comprise a mix of higher-level members, including the chief executive officer or a close delegate, members of the board of directors, department heads, media advisors, and human resources representatives. In other words, people with both the power and ability to quickly appraise a situation, take charge, and motivate desired action(s) among employees.

Depending on the size and needs of your organization, the makeup of your team will vary. However, certain personal attributes and characteristics are essential to formulating an effective team. Leading and management skills are essential, as is the ability to analyze and assess variable and often unknowable situations. Communication and collaboration skills are also must-haves on any emergency management team.

While all team members may not exemplify each of these traits, a good crisis management team is symbiotic with the ability to unite, pool resources, engender confidence among each other and the whole staff, and work together toward a common goal.

Establishing Expectations and Following Through

Regardless of the specific composition of your organization’s emergency management team, designating team leaders is an important part of the equation, as is determining and clearly communicating the functions and responsibilities of each member of the team. This also means routinely checking in with team members to be sure that they’re keeping up with requirements of the job. After all, there’s little room for ambiguity in times of crisis.

Today’s workplaces are hectic, busy and under great pressure to survive today’s challenging and dynamic landscape. While assembling a crisis management team may not seem mission-critical in everyday times, the reality is that an act of workplace violence, terrorism or other crisis may be lurking around the corner. Viewed through that lens, and with the well-being of your staff and your organization at stake, forming a crisis management team becomes one of the most important steps an organization can take.

Next up in our Workplace Violence blog series? A round-up of specific things to keep in mind when implementing and executing a plan for workplace preparedness for violence and terrorism.