When Emotions Run High: Dealing with Stress in Crisis Management
Created by Dean Correia, Security Executive Council Emeritus Faculty
Choosing the Right Team Members. The VP of a function may not always be the right person to sit on the incident management team. Don’t assume that someone with a senior title won’t have a very emotional response to a crisis that will hurt their judgment. The individuals on the various response teams must be able to exercise their subject matter expertise with clarity and calm under pressure. Sometimes that means choosing someone further down the ranks who will be more comfortable performing in a crisis. A high level of comfort under stress can be gained from participating in mock exercises and roundtables. By observing participants in these exercises, you can validate the performance of team members and adjust your plans and teams if necessary.
Having It All in Writing. Team and company roles, responsibilities, policies and procedures must be clearly documented and disseminated to all involved in response and recovery. Because when you’re in your first CMT or IMT meeting and your team is frustrated, afraid and anxious about the events happening around them, it will be easy for them to scatter their attentions, emotionally and practically, trying to take care of everything at once. You can keep people safe and on point by regularly refer- ring to a document that says exactly what everyone needs to be doing in the situation. Someone in that meeting must be courageous enough to point to that document and remind his or her partners to stay in their roles when they want to do otherwise.
A crisis never occurs at a convenient time. You may not have all of the incident management subject matter experts in the room during the critical first hours of the incident. Having clear roles, responsibilities and meeting tools in writing will facilitate the effective resolution of an area where someone else has to wear the hat of that function for a short time. This documentation will allow for the crisis management function to become sustainable as a company turns over its talent.
Security directors must be the rock in crisis. It’s normal for people to need a few moments to step out of a CMT meeting because they’re feeling emotional. We must respect our colleagues’ emotions in a crisis, and we must stand behind a strong, defined response and recovery plan to help them man- age their responsibilities and our own.
For more information on this topic see Program Best Practices: Resilience
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Copyright Security Executive Council. Last Updated: October 6, 2018
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