Five mistakes companies make in a crisis, and how to avoid them!

In a crisis, there's no time to waste, so let's get straight to it.

MISTAKE ONE: HIDING

This is a natural human reaction when something goes wrong. Hiding is akin to 'flight' in the fight or flight analogy. But if you are a leader in a business or organisation, flight is exactly the opposite of what you need to do.

A crisis can be defined in many ways: perhaps there is a threat to your reputation because something bad has actually happened or people believe it has; perhaps there is a threat to your livelihood because of a dramatic change in the market. Whatever the reason, in a crisis it's vital not to hide away from it.

If you are being attacked, you must be prepared to stand up to the attack. This may mean admitting where there is something that has gone wrong and even saying sorry if you need to. This will protect and may often enhance your reputation. If the market conditions are challenging you need to fight - that includes going for a consolidation strategy. The key here is to make an informed choice, not to bury your head in the sand and hope for things to get better.

MISTAKE TWO: LYING

I'm sure you never would but... the absolute worst thing you can possibly do, worse than hiding, is lying. Lying to yourself, lying to your staff, lying to your customers. If something has or is about to go wrong for you, be honest about it. Hold your hands up and ask for help. People who see your vulnerabilities and are willing to help will feel better about you as a result.

MISTAKE THREE: BLUFFING

Don't, just don't, try to bluff your way out of it. It's basically lying but you can tell yourself it's not. Too often leaders believe they can bluff their way out of a bad situation but this is where expert help is essential. A good crisis communicator will tell you what your customer/the public will think or believe about you and your business - listen to them! They are your critical friend at this time and may be the only person who will tell you how it is. Their guidance can steer you through choppy waters like no-one else.

MISTAKE FOUR: COVERING IT UP

Kind of like lying but worse. You can lie but still try to fix the problem. If you cover up the problem it will, have no doubt, come back and bite you: sooner and harder than you ever thought possible. If you cover up a serious mistake or misdemeanour you are basically signing a death warrant for your company. I have first hand experience of companies trying this tactic and seen their share price plummet within days. The advice is as above really - be honest, seek help and work with others to fix things as quickly and completely as you can.

MISTAKE FIVE: TRYING TO MANAGE ALONE

All leaders can benefit from expert help from time to time and none more so than in a crisis. As with bluffing, a really good crisis communicator will get you through it when others may be turning their backs or shrugging their shoulders. This is manna from heaven for us as we love fixing other people's problems! So, if all about you is looking bleak, get an expert in.

If you find yourself in a crisis - and I hope you don't - contact me for immediate help and advice with strategies to get you out the other side feeling stronger and better prepared for the next time...