It's in moments of crisis—those times when something unexpectedly goes dreadfully wrong—you see the truth about your colleagues and partners. For employees, moments of crisis show what their bosses do when the going gets rough. For managers, these moments give them insight as to the leadership growth potential in the organization.
My business markets live experiences: concerts, Broadway shows, sporting events, travel and tourism. My clients are live, and there are no "do-overs"—so moments of crisis are part and parcel of working in the industry.
It can be hard to remember this in the heart of the crisis, but when the world is caving in, you need to watch the actions of your team members. If any of the following four types of people emerge in those scary moments, beware—if not handled correctly, they could ultimately be hazardous to your company.
In the moment of crisis, there is nothing worse than a manager who goes into panic mode. The panicker becomes unapproachable, elevates stress among others and ultimately sends a clear message of a lack of resolve and confidence to the surrounding team. The panicker doesn't make rational decisions, nor does he create an environment where the best decision will ultimately be made.
- What to do: Acknowledge your employee's concerns and let him know a solution is being implemented.
The Finger Pointer
"It was her fault!" Sadly, this is a common response from the finger pointer before a resolution to the problems has even been resolved. Moments of crisis are rarely the fault of one person—and more importantly, there is no room for the blame game while you're trying to find a solution to the problem at hand.
- What to do: Once the storm has settled, arrange a meeting to discuss what went well and what needs to be changed in the future, so that neither the crisis nor the finger pointing repeat themselves.
The Retribution Seeker
A vendor doesn't deliver; a contractor screws up. In a moment of crisis, the retribution seeker is typically first to throw out, "Let's sue them"—before the issue at hand has been addressed. The notion of retribution isn't productive until there is an actual solution and the crisis has been resolved. If a problem is front and center and the topic shifts to negotiation of terms or threat of legal action, you're going nowhere.
- What to do: Put out the flame by being neutral. Taking either side will only add fuel to the fire--and could wound your employee's pride, causing a repeat case.
The Moral Contortionist
The moral contortionist is the person who will suggest an answer to ending the crisis that is fundamentally at odds with your moral core. This is the person that takes the last life preserver, disappears when needed, etc. A colleague of mine likes to say: "How you do anything is how you do everything." We can debate all day about differences in our personal moral fabrics, but some things—lying, stealing, cheating—are just wrong.
- What to do: Rather than pointing out the fault directly, you can let this person save face by revisiting (publicly and broadly) the company’s vision and core values.
In moments of crisis, we are vulnerable to acting in ways that are counter to our core. But, over time, behavior repeats itself and having a team in place that can perform at high levels in both good times and bad is critical to the long-term success of any company.