The number of reporters has dwindled.  The number of negative Tweets has decreased dramatically.  You have returned from the war room to your regular desk.  So, is the crisis over?  No!  The underlying issues are far from gone.  Now you face the legal battles and the new challenge of regaining trust.  In many ways, your work has just begun.

The all-important post-crisis review

Before starting to address the backlog on projects that have been ignored during the crisis period, a good practice is to conduct a review.  This doesn’t have to be a grim exercise.  Simply ask yourself and the crisis team three questions: what did we do well; what did we not do well; what do we wish we had done.

The answers to these questions are important input for your next step – crisis preparation.

Crisis preparation

If this was your first crisis, you may not have had a crisis plan but chances are good that going through this crisis has demonstrated the benefits of having one.  Now is the time to prepare your plan for the inevitable next go-round.  Use the answers from your review to take a good look at the most likely scenarios for your organization, the prevention/mitigation systems you have in place and your team.

Start the rebuilding process

As the saying goes. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”  Rebuilding trust, confidence, morale, systems, etc. requires a relentless effort that will test your tenacity, your values and your patience.  What happened will always be on the record.  What you do after the spotlight is off may not be.

Rebuilding is like losing weight – the process is gradual and slow but the dividends are real.  Remember that everything you do after the crisis will be under the microscope. Your stakeholders may be especially sensitive and/or critical of the moves you make.  That doesn’t mean that you need to stand still; it means that you need to be mindful of your timing and upfront with your rationale.

Is it ever over?

Frankly, no.  Organizations that have experienced crises know that the crisis does fade but it only takes one incident to bring it back into focus.  Some organizations overcome the crisis – Tylenol, Maple Leaf Foods while others Exxon, Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (Lac-Mégantic rail disaster) have been unable to rise above it.

The difference is the way in which the organization works to restore faith and trust.

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