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12 Principles of Crisis Management Quarterly Breakdown

Kenyon's 12 Principles: Quarter 4

We have come to the final set of Kenyon’s 12 Principles of Crisis Management. If you have not read the previous three sets, they can be found by clicking on the following links:

Quarter One
Quarter Two
Quarter Three

personal effects

Principle 10: Personal Effects Operations

Incidents can be chaotic and, in midst of this chaos, the first thing left behind are personal effects (PE). There can be potentially thousands of personal belongings, recovered from scenes of disasters, morgues and family assistance centres, which need to be recovered, processed and returned to owners. While the monetary value for these belongings is a factor in getting them back to the owners, it is often the sentimental value that is more important. For families, objects with higher sentimental value are typically the most sought after following an incident. There are also the practical matters of protecting and returning sensitive items containing confidential, personal or business information, including the recovery of photographs and electronic media. Don’t forget that all of this must be done within the framework of various local and national laws.

Unsurprisingly, managing these consequences begins well before an incident. You need to have a plan in place, along with the resources needed, to recover, securely store, examine, decontaminate and inventory PE. The personnel responsible for undergoing the PE process should be on the look out for identifying features that will help establish the ownership of the items. Items with clear links to an owner are called associated items. Items such as photo identification cards and credit cards contain names and/or unique reference numbers that can be easily linked to a specific person and are examples of associated items. Items that cannot be linked to an owner are called unassociated items and should be categorised and photographed. Remember that the PE process can take a mental and emotional toll on the personnel involved, especially in events involving children. Make sure mental health services and care are available for those who need it. Something else to consider is obtaining insurance that will financially assist your organisation with the personal effects process, as it is very expensive.

Take a look at our latest Year of 12 Principles checklist to learn more about what you should do to manage the personal effects process.

business continuity

Principle 11: Business Continuity

Following an incident, an immediate disruption of regular business will likely occur. If the incident involved a large loss-of-life, you can expect a significant impact in the value of your company. Investors, analysts and financial organisations will begin assessing your response to the incident as well as your ability to recover. Your clients and employees will also question your organisation’s viability and whether you will continue operations in sectors that have not been directly affected by the incident.

In transportation sectors, where traffic and movement is high, business continuity planning is essential for maintaining normal operation during and after disruption. This is where your crisis, or consequence, management plan really matters. How you respond to an incident will greatly affect whether your organisation recovers. Ensure the plan you develop is properly resourced. Create checklists and focus on separating the day-to-day operations from the incident response. You will need a crisis management centre and an incident management centre (this was covered in Principle One's breakdown).

A successful response depends on the reliability of your deployable teams. They need to be able to step away from their regular jobs the moment they are needed to respond to an incident. Our Team Members deploy in 14-day rotations, for example. While choosing your deployable team members, you need to also identifying those with distinct leadership skills. At the very least, you need a leader to focus on the actual event and another to focus on the business.

Many ask, “What’s the point of trying to continue operations or attempting to rebuild a business after a mass fatality?” It’s a common misconception that a brand can no longer be trusted after such an incident, yet reality has proven otherwise. While mass fatality incidents have an immediate impact on employees, clients and shareholders, if successfully managed, businesses do recover and eventually survive. And if a company can successfully manage a loss-of-life incident and continue on, what can’t they manage?

Fatality Operations

Principle 12: Crisis Leadership

Large-scale loss-of-life events are a direct challenge to our ability to prevent accidents or control our environment. No matter how much you plan for them, crises are always sudden and unexpected. Managing the consequences of an incident successfully requires several levels of leadership: team leadership, leadership of functional areas and leadership of the impacted business. You run the risk of creating a leadership vacuum should your CEO and high-level managers delay in moving from management roles to leadership positions.

First and foremost, the CEO and other leadership roles of your organisation must accept the very real possibility that a mass fatality event can occur on their watch. Once their way of thinking goes from “if it happens” to “when it happens,” proactive measures can be taken. Your leadership team should allocate funds for such an event. They should also support and participate in drills and exercises, regardless of how busy they are. Building a crisis response team who will work cohesively, can make decisions and will take action with very little guidance is integral to a successful crisis response. Understanding the difference between public relations and crisis communications also plays a key role in a crisis response.

Four key characteristics of a successful crisis leader are:

Self Confidence: A successful crisis leader will have the confidence to take responsibility for the incident and its response and make timely decisions; any hesitation to act is unacceptable. A crisis leader has to be able to listen to the many people reaching out to him, make decisions accordingly and execute said decisions.

Calmness: The ability to project calmness and emotional control greatly impacts the success of a leader. After an incident, people look to the leader to determine what happens next. They are typically scared and uncertain about the future and panic and even shouting are expected; a calm and determined leader reassures the masses.

Focus: Quickly determining what is and isn’t important requires a great deal of focus. A successful crisis leader can focus on both the details and the “big picture.”

Selflessness: True selflessness is something every successful crisis leader should have. They understand that an efficient crisis response isn’t about them; they get to go home when the response is over. For survivors and families, however, life is never the same; some will never be able to go home again. How a leader responds will determine how hard a time survivors have after an incident.

Fortunately, these skills can be developed. You just need the wherewithal to recognize which of these four areas you need to improve on. The ability to manage an unmanageable situation separates the leaders from the managers.

Be sure to subscribe to Kenyon's Year of 12 Principles to receive a new checklist each month.