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Why Family Employers Need To Plan For A Crisis

The owners of an Ohio apartment that was destroyed when a corporate jet crashed into it are suing the estates of the two deceased pilots and the owner of the plane for property loss and damages.

The crash also killed the seven executives from a Florida commercial real estate company who were on board.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board determined the crash was caused by pilot error when the plane approached the Akron airport. It also concluded that the private jet charter company that operated the aircraft did not provide adequate pilot training or aircraft maintenance. "Lawsuit filed over Ohio jet crash that killed 9 from South Florida," sun-sentinel.com (Jan. 7, 2017).


Commentary and Checklist

It is impossible to predict when a crisis like this plane crash might occur, but family employers must prepare for the worst.

By creating a crisis management plan now, family employers can make sure they make the right decisions during the chaos of a crisis. Crisis management plans outline next steps and important communications following various plausible crises.

Examples of crises family employers should create plans for include natural disasters, unexpected harm to a family member or members and kidnapping or abduction of a family member or other crime against the family.

Family employers should work with their managers and outside consultants to perform a vulnerability audit and create a crisis management plan. Failing to plan for crises will lead to confusion, a slower response, and greater losses.

Here are ten elements of an effective crisis management plan, according to the Harvard Business School:

  • Consider multiple crisis scenarios that represent the crises your organization is most likely to face. For example, include an earthquake as a plausible crisis if you live in an area with earthquakes, but do not if earthquakes are highly unlikely in your area.
  • Use planned scenarios to develop "modules" of responses that can be easily combined to address unplanned for disasters. Examples of modules include: facility lockdown, police or fire response, evacuation, isolation, medical containment, grief management, and external communication.
  • Match your response modules to possible crises.
  • Designate a chain of command for addressing crises. Family employers should lead during a crisis, but designate several other managers to take charge if you are unable or unavailable.
  • Identify signals for activating your response plan for various crises. Also have an "all clear" signal so that staff knows when a crisis has passed.
  • Have a location available that can be used as a command post should your home or office be jeopardized by a crisis.
  • Identify how you will communicate with staff, family members, and others in the event of a crisis; for example, via a text chain or an intercom system. Compose messages in advance.
  • Have a stash of backup food, water, medical supplies, and, if possible, a power generator.
  • Conduct periodic simulation exercises to practice your crisis management plan.
  • Analyze your simulation exercises and any crises that do occur to determine what worked and what may need to be changed in your plan.
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