How to Develop a Ready Response Capability

Organisations in Christchurch have now moved out of their initial crisis response mode into business recovery and a ‘new' normal. This typically includes temporary accommodation, disrupted workplaces, cramped working conditions and longer commutes; extra or different demands, loss of staff and/or clients or records.

For some managers and staff in the early days of their initial crisis response, they made unexpected yet immensely valuable discoveries. That is, many of their pre-earthquake everyday policies and procedures and practices were impractical, redundant and/or time-wasting. They also discovered what they really needed to focus on how they needed to ‘be' like, on a daily basis.

Their insights are applicable to all management teams, managers and team leaders. They're applicable to crisis situations AND all everyday, ‘normal' work days AND they can be applied immediately.

1. Focus on what is important – Constantly evaluate what needs to be done in terms of importance and urgency. Set priorities to determine what is mission critical, mission as usual and, what needs doing eventually.

2. Break big tasks/issues into pieces – This will reduce overwhelm and paralysis through endless analysis.

3. Create a sense of urgency – Do so daily. Be clear about what needs to be done and the expectations around deadlines. Role model the practices you need to see displayed by others.

4. Adapt quickly to changing situations – Ask yourself ‘who do I have to be and what do I have to do differently, now the landscape has changed/is changing'? Then be it and do it.

5. Question policies, procedures, systems and structure – Ask ‘what helps or hinders progress in the business? What doesn't make sense to do any more? What is really needed now?'. Change policies, procedures, systems and structure to reflect what's really needed in changed and constantly changing times; and in times of rapid expansion or other development.

6. Cut to the chase – Hold short, laser like meetings and quickly get to the point. Eliminate all unnecessary, habitual meetings. Identify all time, money and resource-wasting, non-productive, duplicating, draining, or historical ‘stuff'. Be bold and courageous and eliminate it. Develop a zero tolerance level to the intolerable.

7. Set clear expectations – Be clear about what is needed.

8. Check in daily – Check in with the staff first thing. Talk about what the day holds, any goals to be completed and issues people need to be aware of.

9. Support people – Encourage and endorse what staff do. Support and guide them. Show them how to lift or change their game.

10. Think and move quickly – If something is tried and the outcome isn't as successful as hoped for, find plans b, c or d and try again. Think ‘continuous improvement' model and get into high gear.

11. Ensure alignment -Ensure the organisation's values are real and expressed in everything it does. Check the staffs' alignment with the organisational values. If they're both in alignment, great things can happen. If they're out of alignment, they won't.

12. Acknowledge effort and successes – Notice what's going on around. Freely acknowledge effort and individual and collective successes. This is the ‘organisational oil' that enables people to feel appreciated, validated and energised. Everyone needs this.

13. Celebrate the wins – Find the wins, regardless of their size, and draw them to attention. It's easy to lose sight of all that has been achieved when there is always more to do. So celebrate them, they're all important.

14. Stop to continue – Take time to stop, take stock, draw breath, recoup energy and plan some more. Then continue on. Do this regularly.

Sue Dwan, Dwan & Associates,