Protecting your reputation
If the people who are most affected by your incident are not openly critical of your organisation it is difficult for others to be.
Your greatest asset
You already know the cliché that your organisation’s greatest asset is its reputation. It’s a cliché because it is usually true. Unfortunately that means that if your reputation is seriously damaged the effect will be negative – maybe even disastrous.
Imagine it has happened
Imagine an incident has just happened to your organisation. Perhaps it was terrifying for those involved. There may even have been death or injury. A response is expected from you – regardless of whether or not you are legally liable.
What outcomes are you hoping for?
Perhaps you hope that your organisation will be thought of as sensitive, efficient and suitably generous towards whoever has been affected.
Ideally the people affected will say that it is bad that the incident happened, but that your organisation did an excellent job of responding.
Your response will have a major influence on the beliefs that will emerge about your organisation.
Sensibly, we fear some of those beliefs because they could destroy a carefully won reputation.
Ideas we fear…
- that you were inadequately prepared
- that you didn’t take it seriously enough
- that you didn’t care about the effect on some or all of the people involved
- that you knew it was likely to happen but did nothing/not enough to prevent it
- that you were too slow
- that you were hard-hearted in your response
- that you were penny-pinching when generosity was needed
…and there are others.
Whose opinion matters most?
You may worry about the opinions that journalists express in the broadcast media; or that strangers express on social media. At Clarity we think that the opinion that matter most are those of the people affected: employees, customers and their families. The opinions of those people are the most influential.
How can you influence their opinion?
Be ambitious. Decide that your organisation’s response will be Prompt, Proactive and Personal.
It is vital that the people affected by an incident don’t think you have dragged your feet, but that you acted Promptly.
It is also important that they witness tangible evidence of support being Proactively offered to them. Providing a telephone number for victims to call is reactive, not Proactive.
And try to ensure that there is a Personal element in that support. Have they been addressed by name? Has someone made eye contact with them whilst asking them how they are? Has anybody shown recognition of their specific experience?
If your Incident Management Plan is written with these principles embedded into it you will have made a good start.
But before you can expect to achieve the best outcomes you also need appropriate Training so that you and your colleagues are able to put your Incident Management Plan into action. And your response will be more confident and effective if you have an established relationship with an expert supplier. The familiarity should be nurtured between your organisation and any incident management provider will reap its rewards if you suffer a serious incident.
Consider auditing your incident preparation or asking Clarity to review your current Incident Management Plan to assess whether or not it will help protect the psychological welfare of the people affected by an incident. Or you could arrange some engaging and interactive training to help colleagues feel more confident about what to do and not do when offering support.