Crisis Management starts inside your head
Updated: May 23, 2020
Crisis management is a constant feature of the LAWatWORK practice. Accidents, accusations, investigations, terminations, financial disasters, calamities - these are the things that make people call or write. Especially the midnight calls.
As a result, I often deal with people who are enduring high-stress situations. Sometimes they’re dealing with a business reputation crisis, a physical disaster, a workplace death. Sometimes they're firing someone, or don't know what to do about an employee situation. Sometimes they've been fired.
I have seen companies fire people in a panic, afraid to pause and do the right thing because of "how it might look." I have stopped companies from doing it too, and afterwards everyone is grateful for it. And I must sometimes counsel companies to make hard choices - because every day they ignore some problems, those problems just get worse.
No matter how smart or wise they are, these decision-makers are human. These are successful people unaccustomed to serious bad news. Sometimes they don’t even know what they’re feeling. It’s quite disorienting. And if the issue is deeply personal, that is all the more true.
To give them advice, I need their heads to be clear. This is what I tell them, especially those in a truly personal crisis:
1. Try to stay close to a loved one. You need it.
2. Who’s your smartest friend who doesn’t have a stake in what you have to decide? Call her/him. (sorry to be a lawyer about this, but do think about how much detail you can share with this friend. Get moral support).
3. Contact people you like and just see them - don’t talk about your bad news, but something else. This will remind you of who you really are, not the bad thing you’re going through.
4. Walk more, drink less alcohol, go to bed earlier. Why? Because you’ll sleep better, feel better and function better. (Don’t worry, wine will still be there when the week is over).
What kind of “legal advice” is that? The kind that enables a client to make better decisions in a #crisis. It's not always necessary, but it often is.
A lawyer not only gives advice and takes instruction, she or he has to ensure that the client is operating at the highest possible level - is clear-eyed, calm, taking into account the full range of facts and issues. Your lawyer's job is to help you make better decisions.
Crisis management always starts in the same place - inside your head. That's where your lawyer should start, too.