Silicon Valley Bank — one of the most reliable sources of funding for tech companies— recently collapsed in what became thelargest U.S. financial crisis since 2008.Enterprise clients attempted to withdraw billions of dollars from their bank accounts in just over 24 hours. The days that followed were challenging for the market and the banking system writ-large.
I have seen a fair share of crises (and aftermaths) in my 17 years of experience in the finance world. Navigating SVB’s collapse as Gympass’ Global Finance Operations was the most recent, and it won’t be the last. Through everything, I’ve learned that preparation is the best prevention.
Here are five crisis response guidelines your company can implement so it’s ready to weather an unexpected issue, financial or otherwise:
- Diversify Vendor Relations
Variety is more than the spice of life — in a crisis, it can be a lifeline. Companies with diversified vendor relations are able to handle the fallout of any situation faster than those with just a few partnerships. If one of your partners disappears or experiences crippling supply-chain issues, you have existing relationships to draw on straight away. This can help you push through with fewer business disruption than if you have to find alternative partners from scratch while scrambling.
Of course, you don’t want your operations to be needlessly complex. You don’t need scores of operational accounts, for example. It’s important to find the right balance between simplifying and diversifying. You likely don’t need a plan K, but you do want plans B and C.
- Prioritize Communication
When a crisis emerges, are you communicating urgent demands transparently and effectively within your team? This can be difficult with a hybrid workforce, where distribution can make it tricky to swiftly align on priorities and action plans. Leaders don’t have full visibility of their team’s workload and activity levels, which are often highduring a crisis.
This all makes good communication vital when a situation is unfolding quickly. If everyone is fully aware of what is happening — and what needs to be done to get out of that rut — it’s easier to rearrange demands, negotiate deadlines, and decline meetings. There’s no business as usual when a crisis hits.
- Set Up Live Documents
In a crisis, time is everything. There might not be enough of it to get people in a (virtual) conference room everytime you need to align on something. One way out is to divide and conquer, and that can be easily managed through a live document.
Live documents are a point of no return. They are a way to keep track of everything that is going on and serve as a single source of truth for teams. It avoids back and forth emails, multiple chats with incomplete audiences, and time-consuming meetings. Asynchronous communication is key to being effective in times like these.
- Empower Your Team
We all want to have more agile businesses, especially in moments of crisis. Decentralizing decision-making is a key factor when trying to move through difficult times. Micromanaging is unnecessary if you want your team and company to recover as quickly and efficiently as possible. Empowering your team, on the other hand, is what I believe in.
Make sure you delegate accordingly and everyone feels accountable for their contributions, with an extreme ownership mentality. The collective power is always better than individual power, in any circumstance.
- Share Knowledge Within Teams
I’m a firm believer that teams should have shared knowledge. That doesn’t mean that everyoneshould know everythingabout all roles. But when employees have cross-functional skills, the team is able to share the workload and achieve greater flexibility and better performance. (This can even boost employee motivation by expanding their skillset, making them more valuable to the company.)
Shared knowledge is especially critical in times of crisis, as it enables your team to divide and conquer. While one person attends the unfolding crisis, for example, a colleague can take over their daily responsibilities. This lets one person give the crisis their full attention without sacrificing your department’s daily operations.
Nobody wants to be face to face with a crisis, especially an unexpected one. But you don’t have to be unprepared for the unexpected. Dealing with a crisis requires creativity, efficiency, collaboration and empathy. When handled correctly, leading a company’s crisis response can be a transformative professional experience for all involved.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.