Stay the course

When a crisis hits, it helps to keep the simple steps in mind when weathering the storm.

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A crisis plan cannot possibly cover every situation, but at its foundation you will know how to respond. Thinking ahead now to when you are served papers, sued or when scandal hits will help you be prepared. Here are some steps to help you formulate the crisis plan.

Go on the offense.

You will need to communicate, but not too much. There is a fine line on answering questions, confirming information and responding.

Remember, silence deems approval. Be prepared to address rumors in an honest, positive and frank manner. It’s up to you to sift out what’s true and what’s not. It’s up to you to know what you want others to know and it’s your job to make sure the point is shouted loud, clear and consistently above all other voices out there.

In this day of quick social media posts, you need to be ahead to decide where and when it’s going to crash. Don’t be afraid to use social media to skillfully get the message out that you need. When you know there’s going to be an unavoidable fallout from the news or crisis, hit it head on, provide the solution or communicate that you are working on a solution and be proactive in your message.

Keep it positive.

You need to make your message honest and truthful while maintaining the positive belief that you’ll come out the backside as a better, stronger person. Responding in a positive manner is an integral part to a successful resolution.

Don’t forget your team is watching you, they’re taking their cue on how to respond from your example. Even when you deliver hard or difficult news, speak clearly and slowly, make sure you make eye contact, use hand gestures that convey warmth and openness.

Emphasize moving forward.

It is essential your entire team understands the “show must go on” and does everything to keep business as usual while pushing the positive message you have identified as the central theme to keeping everyone focused.

Admit your mistakes.

If you’ve made a mistake or error in judgment, be prepared to accept full responsibility, apologize or ask forgiveness and then show the steps you’re taking to rectify the situation.

We’re wired to be gracious when human error occurs and it helps when the person admits with humility and honesty when they’ve made a mistake.

ask for help.

Finding a trusted source can be a tiring process so make sure you have already started the process of vetting that person.

You need to start with defining your ethical, moral, character and value standards and how your trusted source needs to share your views in different areas.

It is wise to ask around, check social media, seek references and then always interview on matters that you will need key advice on.

Ask your peers who they have used and their results. This is where organizations like the National Association of Landscape Professionals deliver such a valuable resource in providing opportunities for green industry professionals to network and connect and find trusted sources.

Don’t be too proud to accept help or ask for help.

use that help.

You have to know who your support system is. This is when the trusted business relationships you have built and managed over the years come into play.

If you have already established a clear and honest communication path with your contacts, then letting them know that what you need and how they can support you through the crisis should be well received.

Using a trusted source as a sounding board is wise and may be a lifesaving experience to offset the high emotional price crises bring. Trusted sources can include clergy and paid professional counselors, not just those within our green industry.

Finally, I would advise you to trust your gut feeling. It’s there for a reason.

Take care of yourself.

You need sleep, rest, exercise and quiet time to get you through high stress situations and you have to make this a key priority.

You won’t be able to think or respond clearly and efficiently if your brain is fighting to stay awake or your body is lethargic due to overloading with bad eating choices.

Your brain needs mental breaks – free from thinking about “it” and whether you can focus on other things during exercise or quiet time, you will be able to focus better on problem solving if you have given your brain a reprise from the stress.

Taking a walk, stretching your body or turning off the light in your office to sit and breathe deeply for a few minutes can be rejuvenating. Your music choice can also play a large part in your brain response, so choose wisely.

Journal what you learned.

Write down the things that worked and the things that failed so when the next crisis hits, you will be better prepared to fight the experience. I find that writing, on paper is therapeutic, but there are some days when pounding out the words on my keyboard is satisfying also.

I have a set quiet time for journaling to allow my mind to reflect, and then record those thoughts, so when the crisis hits you can review the emotions, actions and responses you had.

This will give you strength and hope as you power through and remind yourself you have already made it through a dark time and, when the next crisis hits, you will be prepared.

The author is CMO and executive vice president of Land Care, a landscaping company in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

October 2016
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