Today we finished a day and a half of training in crisis management. We began with a simulation. In each group we were given very little information about our company, told that we were in charge, and then BAM, the crisis started. We began receiving telephone calls from employees about chemical leakage from our plant. Before we could get a handle on that, news reporters burst into our offices asking accusatory questions to which we really had no ability to respond intelligently.
We spent the next several hours trying to gather information from our employees, the media, the townspeople, and the authorities. All the while the phone was ringing off the hook, the reporters were beating down our doors, and we were trying to figure out what to do given our limited understanding of the situation. By the end of the exercise we had a full-blown environmental catastrophe on our hands and our share price had fallen 50%. Our attempts to communicate via the media were amateurish at best and may only have exacerbated the situation. What a failure!
What a learning experience as well. We spent the next day analyzing what happened during the crisis and how best to prepare for/execute crisis management. This included a significant amount of time focusing on how best to give interviews, hold press conferences, and deal with the media. Our practice interviews were taped, replayed, and analyzed, which helped us understand what we need to work on–especially in situations featuring high anxiety and low information. This was a very good, eye-opening exercise.
In between the crises, we have had a few chances to catch up with one another about our vacations. It’s kind of funny; all the girls are showing off new clothes purchased over the break. All the guys look pretty much the same. Three of the guys were married in July. One of the guys had a baby–wild and crazy times!
Our next day will be spent on career strategy/search, followed by two and a half days of negotiation training. Welcome back to school!