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Crisis Management Team: Function, Roles & Responsibilities

Published on November 11, 2022

Building an Effective Crisis Management Team

By definition, business crises hit suddenly, when you least expect it. Threats can come in any shape or form and significantly impact your operations. It’s important to designate a crisis management team who will be responsible for addressing the crisis at hand and develop a solid crisis management plan to avoid a debilitating impact on your business.

Building crisis management teams should be done in advance, rather than at the onset of a crisis, to be effective. This comprehensive guide outlines what you need in order to build a crisis management team and to identify the roles and responsibilities of those who will be chosen to become a part of this core team.

Crisis Management Team sitting round a table

Why Do You Need a Crisis Management Team?

A crisis management team is a group of individuals who will be responsible for executing your organization’s crisis response procedures. These are individuals who are existing parts of the organization or are specifically hired for this purpose.

Regardless of how you choose to build crisis management teams, it is important that you have one. Your ability to respond to crises is critical for business continuity. Without a crisis management team, any disruption or threat to your business could shut it down for good. A crisis plan together with a business recovery strategy is important and you need a crisis team who is solely responsible for these.

All businesses face various potential risks. Not all of these risks refer to a physical event, such as theft or natural disasters. It can be issues related to your customers and technologies, such as a disgruntled customer who ruins your business reputation, hacking or cybersecurity threat, or any event that puts your business finances at risk.

The crisis management teams will be responsible for addressing any of these potential risks and issues. Their goal is to avoid negative impacts on the organization and to identify these risks so they can be mitigated before they actually happen.

Crisis management team members with laptop and planning documents

Roles within Crisis Management Teams

A crisis management team consists of several individuals with each one having an important role and responsibility to the good of the business, and to ensure a rapid crisis response. Below is a detailed look into the different roles and responsibilities of an effective crisis management team.

Crisis Management Team Leader

The crisis manager or team leader is the most important role in the crisis management team. The designated leader is responsible for managing the various aspects of your crisis response actions. It is important that you choose a crisis manager who possesses leadership skills or has held leadership roles in some capacity before this responsibility.

Possessing good leadership and project management skills enables the crisis manager to stay calm under high-pressure situations, think clearly when they have to make rapid decisions, and have the accountability to stand by the decisions they’ve made. A good project manager is able to exercise a global view and recognise codependencies, which makes them good leaders of crisis teams too.

The role of a crisis management team leader includes assessing the situation and identifying potential risks to the organization. They must be able to identify the type and scope of impact that those risks pose to the organization. The information is integral in developing a crisis response plan and ensuring that you take adequate action for them.

It is also the crisis team leader’s responsibility to ensure that the safety of the staff and employees within the organization are put at the highest priority level. Therefore, employee safety and welfare are considered when you want to overcome emergency situations successfully.

Crisis management team leader holding a meeting

A team leader is the one to determine the appropriate level of priority when responding to crisis situations. They should be able to identify the threat that can have the most impact on the organization and the business continuity, which is why those priorities should be addressed accordingly.

The deployment of a crisis response strategy is not the end of a team leader’s responsibility. They have to continually monitor and evaluate the impact of the existing crisis response strategies. Based on the results, they can continue to implement the business recovery strategies or make the necessary revisions to achieve the desired result.

Finally, a team leader should not be afraid to seek help from the crisis management team members, stakeholders, and senior management. They have to acknowledge the fact that they cannot handle emergency situations on their own and they must rely on others, especially the other team members, to help them in responding to these situations.

Crisis management team admin support

Administrative Support or Scribe

The administrative support staff is crucial to successful crisis management teams. They deliver support to the team members to ensure that they have the tools and capabilities to perform their job. They are also responsible for tracking developments and ensuring that any issues are resolved.

The administrative support provides practical support and knowledge to ensure that the crisis operation moves forward without any hiccups.

Human Resources

During times of crisis, your focus can be zeroed in on trying to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery and reassuring your customers and business partners. As a result, many organizations end up neglecting their core team of employees.

Your employees could be experiencing fear and worry when you are met with a crisis. Therefore, you must communicate with them to provide them with the added assurance that you can deliver the support they need. Make sure to provide your team member with administrative support and human resources support by enforcing their benefits, ensuring their well-being, and letting them know that business recovery is on the way.

Choose an experienced human resources manager to handle this aspect of your crisis response. When necessary, you should also help affected employees by providing medical care and support from grief counselors.

Crisis management team members stressed

Legal & Finance

The legal and finance teams are a vital part of the crisis management team. They will be responsible for addressing issues on reporting, regulations, compliance, taxation, and accounting. This crisis management team member must have the right level of expertise to handle any nuances to the job and to be able to make decisions that impact your entire crisis response measures. It is also integral to avoid any legal ramifications during times of business disruption.

On the other hand, the finance department ensures that you can maintain financial stability and have adequate resources to maintain continuity.

Security & Risk Analysis

The security & risk analysis team need to work together for your crisis management team to succeed. Their roles are focused on conducting risk assessments and identifying threats before they can cause adverse effects on your business operations. They must be able to identify the early signs of threat before the crisis occurs.

In fact, regular risk analysis should be integrated into every business’ crisis management team role. Most organisations invest a great deal in security and risk analysis rather than deal with the significant negative impact of a business disruption.

Crisis management team members looking at computer

Information Technology (IT)

The information technology (IT) team play a vital role as part of your crisis management team. In this day and age when most businesses and organisations rely on the use of the internet and technological tools, their work is more important than ever.

The IT department can work to restore, replace, and protect your network servers and keep your information systems running again. They will also be responsible for ensuring there is no negative impact on the business as a result of the crisis.

It is not uncommon to hear about cyber attacks nowadays. Therefore, your IT team must be one step ahead to avoid vulnerabilities in these cybersecurity breaches.

Marketing & Communications

The marketing and communications role is vital during a time of crisis. It is important because they not only maintain internal crisis communications but also help with your corporate communications. During times of crisis, it is more important than ever to assure your business partners and customers that you have things under control.

It is the responsibility of the marketing and communications team to relay this information to your business partners, stakeholders, and customers. They must employ various crisis communications techniques and channels to ensure that the information is relayed promptly and accurately.

Characteristics of Crisis Management Team Members

How do you build a crisis management team? It’s important to find an answer to this question because it is critical to a business's ability to survive a crisis.

The following characteristics are beneficial to a successful crisis management team. Use this list as a guide so you can put together the best team for the job.

Crisis management team members making plans

1. Know the Business Inside-Out

Every organisation faces different types of crises depending on the nature of the business. For example, a construction company faces different types of risks and threats than a restaurant business or local authorities.

For small organizations and large organizations alike, it's essential to promote a combination of big picture thinking alongside a good understanding and due consideration of individual tasks and procedures carried out by employees across the various projects and departments.

It takes a great deal of knowledge of business operations and managerial procedures to perform an effective risk assessment and business impact analysis. Therefore, you need to outline the most common risks that your business faces and come up with a damage assessment to be able to create an effective crisis management plan and to have a successful crisis management team structure.

The best crisis management teams are the ones that are specially geared to handle the specific types of risks that are present in your business. Therefore, your team is not just prepared to handle any risks, but they can face any risks that are unique to the nuances of your organization.

2. Designate Roles and Responsibilities

A good crisis management team is one that consists of individuals and team members who understands their role and responsibility. Picking a good team leader is crucial to the effectiveness of your crisis response plan. However, that is just one aspect of your crisis response team.

Make sure to designate one person from the appropriate departments within your organization to fill the different roles as part of your crisis management plan. For example, you need to designate someone to handle the crisis response internal communications, finances, information technology, and human resources. The best way to ensure that you can protect every aspect of your business is to identify the crisis management team roles and clearly define the responsibilities for each role.

3. Choose Team Members Based on Personal Characteristics

Knowledge in response to a crisis is not enough. You need to find crisis management team members who also fit the characteristics and personalities that make them a good fit for their roles.

The people you want in your crisis management team are those who are confident, critical thinkers, problem-solvers, resourceful, and collaborative. They must be able to make their own decisions but also work well within a team. Even the senior management or team leaders must possess these skills, too.

4. Review Details of the Role of Each Individual

It is important that you constantly review and re-evaluate the roles of each team member in your crisis response team. These roles can also change at a moment’s notice, depending on the nature and severity of the crisis you are dealing with. Hence, you want to find people to become a part of your team that would be adaptable enough to deal with these changes.

Crisis management team members looking at laptop

The Key Takeaways

It’s never easy dealing with a crisis, regardless of the size or type of organisation. Therefore, it is important to be prepared when a crisis happens to ensure a successful recovery and overall business continuity.

Being prepared allows you to identify any potential adverse effects and pre-plan for the crisis as much as possible. An effective crisis management team can produce better outcomes.

You have to carefully evaluate the capabilities of every team member before you assign them a role in your crisis management team. Make sure that the person you choose for the position and role is capable, otherwise, they could be overwhelmed by the responsibilities they face.

It’s also important to place proper consideration on communication within the crisis management team to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding how to respond to a crisis when it does happen.

Finally, it pays to revisit your business continuity plans and strategies from time to time. It’s not enough that you have the right people for the job; it’s equally important that you have the right plan of action, too.

The C2 Business Continuity Management Software (BCMS) is designed to help you plan for business disruptions as well as support your crisis team at the time when an incident occurs, via its robust incident management module. Web-based tools make it easier for your crisis team to revisit and continually review your business continuity and operational resilience plans.