Crisis Management: The often overlooked recovery

To help readers align their crisis response plans with the British Standard for Crisis Management, we have produced a series of articles which focus on the key areas of the standard. Each article explains the importance of each key area and sets out practical tips for implementation. We have previously focused on the creation of a Crisis Management Plan, information management during a crisis and an organisation’s response.

In this article, which is the last of the current series, we look at the often overlooked and undervalued stage of crisis management -  the recovery.

Turning your attention to the recovery phase necessarily entails a longer term approach, with the introduction of new considerations as to how your organisation is to adapt to a new normal.

Failure to give the recovery stages adequate strategic attention can mean that much of the good work carried out during the response stage of the crisis is undone. Relationships with interested parties can also be neglected and potential opportunities may not be grasped.

What to prepare for

Our experience dealing with the longer term process of an organisation’s response, sometimes continuing for many years post-incident, demonstrates the need to be clear on those many competing demands on your organisation’s time. Your plan should include provisions for dealing with:

  • Longer term reputational damage – managing reputational issues can be as important during the post-crisis recovery stages as the initial crisis response. Detailed information and analysis of what is being reported and the external trends allow for ongoing validation of your position. You should also anticipate and prepare for key events in the life cycle of a crisis and be ready to deliver a clear message.
  • Investor concerns – an effectively managed and clearly identified recovery process can be a strong factor in allaying investor concerns and also help to minimise future financial exposure.
  • Ongoing legal investigations – organisations are often required to support investigations or enquiries by the police or regulatory authorities. In the worst case scenario they may be subject to legal proceedings. Unfortunately, this element of the recovery should be expected to consume significant resources long after the response phase is over. You should therefore be clear about the expected stages of this process and plan, through close coordination with your legal team, how best to manage this process.
  • Social cost - employees, customers and key stakeholders can all be affected by the aftermath of a crisis. It can be beneficial to consult your HR team to identify any steps required to monitor and actively address any issues as they arise.

Plans and protocols should recognise the importance of a handover from the initial response phase to the recovery phase of crisis management. Whilst there will no doubt be significant overlap with the CMT, the recovery team can be streamlined to minimise business interruption but also focus those skills required for this second phase.

Review and learn

Ever looking for the silver lining, crises provide important learning opportunities for both individuals and organisations as a whole.

Following the evaluation of the incident, lessons to be learned should be identified and agreed. Recommendations can then be made for future change and improvement.

It’s equally important to allocate responsibilities and timelines to ensure that the recommendations are carried out.

In addition to the benefits to the business, the value that such measures can have in avoiding/mitigating the effects of future legal proceedings should not be underestimated. Post-incident recovery will often be scrutinised by regulators: fail to make any changes within the organisation and risk demonstrating complacency or even disregard for those events leading to the crisis; go too far in the opposite direction and risk leaving yourself open to criticism of those pre-crisis systems in place. A careful stance needs to be adopted, mindful of future implications and drawing upon all legal and practical advice available.

As recognised by the standard, learning the lessons from a crisis is an essential element of crisis management and avoids a situation where latent problems and vulnerabilities are allowed to remain in an organisation.

DWF have experience designing and advising upon bespoke Crisis Management Plans and delivering training sessions for members of a CMT dependent upon the size of your organisation, industry and resources available. If you would like more information about this service please contact Nicholas Barker or Steffan Groch.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

DWF Crisis Response

A suspicious death on the premises. A director arrested on criminal charges. Television cameras outside your office... ...of course, these things never happen in real life, do they?

Don't wait for a crisis to start before planning your response

Steffan Groch

Partner and Head of Regulatory - Head of Sectors

I head up DWF's national Regulatory team as well as leading the firm’s ‘go to market’ sector expertise. I am also Chair of the UK Health and Safety Lawyers Association.