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Getting through times of crisis

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

Workplaces, no matter where they’re situated, are sure to encounter times of crisis. Adaptability, leadership, and communication are all invaluable tools for pulling businesses through hardship.

There are a variety of crises that organisations are likely to go through at some stage. According to Gayle Deighton, country director of IsraAID in Kenya, financial troubles are a common example.

“One of the most predominant crises within this sector is financial stability. The funding landscape is always changing, as are the priorities of donors. The rising number of new emergencies competes with the protracted emergencies for funds,” said Ms Deighton.

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“The essential needs of communities and the reasons behind the need remain the same. This has a significant impact on the planning and execution of projects aimed at providing essential services, building resilience, or delivering development assistance. As leaders, this leads us to ensure we have diversified funding models, strategic resource allocation and flexibility and adaptability.”

While funding is a universal issue, some organisations may go through more niche troubles. Queensland and the ongoing flooding is a prime example of how a natural disaster can shake processes up and put employees at risk.

“When working in areas of conflict or prone to natural disasters adds an additional layer of risk for staff and operations. As an organisation, we continue to implement our normal activities and respond to the emergency as it unfolds,” Ms Deighton explained.

“We most recently did this in a small village in Kakuma, when drought turned to flood in one downpour, and the village lost homes, their health facility, access to clean water and the risk of waterborne diseases and everything in between.”

According to Ms Deighton, the response leaders have to crises will be different as many factors come into play. However, some key themes will often arise, such as resource allocation, flexibility, and adaptability.

She continued: “In an emergency, we should remain empathetic yet focused, resilient, adaptable and flexible and provide decisive and strategic direction (see clearly through the fog), maintain clear and transparent communication, and collaborate with other actors.”

“During all the rush of an emergency, it is also essential to always remember self-care and the self-care of staff.”

While leaders are there to take charge in chaotic times, employees must still do their part to assist.

“Leveraging the diverse skills and perspectives of employees is crucial during times of crisis. It is important as a leader to foster these talents and use them efficiently and effectively when needed. Their intimate local knowledge can be invaluable to assist in making the best decisions and tailoring interventions,” Ms Deighton said.

“During normal operations, nurturing and encouraging an environment and culture of innovation creates a platform for some employees to come up with creative and unconventional solutions to address challenges – these can often flourish during times of crisis.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.