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November 2019

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The Ultimate Guide To Hiring Executives For Your Company

The Ultimate Guide To Hiring Executives For Your Company 1080 675 VP Legacies

When founding a new venture, it is not unusual for a founder to wear too many hats. It’s actually the most sensible, cost-effective, and efficient way to get things done during those early days. However, as your business grows, “founder-sweat” quickly spread thin.

Eventually, even the most efficient startup grows to a level when it becomes essential to hire business executives who can help propel the corporation to the next level.

Nowadays, employers have the advantage of having a vast collection of candidates to choose from and interview for comparatively few vacant positions.

But, the executive hiring process is quite different from the standard recruiting processes. For one thing, the conventional interview process for staff roles isn’t a dependable method for judging executive candidates.

To hire the most qualified executives for top-level positions, a company needs to graduate from simple hiring and leverage more advanced recruiting techniques.

This article will give a slightly broader overview of what executive hiring entails end-to-end, as well as some tips for building an executive recruitment program that delivers results.

In a world where the average CEO’s tenure is increasingly shortening, companies with strong executive hiring programs can scale notably more effortlessly than their counterparts. 

What Is Executive Hiring?

Executive hiring refers to the process of discovering and employing candidates to occupy leading roles at the company. The nuance of executive hiring is that different roles, despite being under the C suite, vary dramatically – not only from each other, but also company by company.


CEO tenures continue to fall across the board. In 2017, the average CEO tenure was an all-time low of only 5 years. Most companies eventually need to hire a new CEO to guide the company through a new phase – and it’s without a doubt the hardest of the C suite to hire for.

The CEO decides the company’s policy. They employ and assemble the senior team. A CEO’s docket also involves making the final decision on how company resources are managed, and it is usually their face that appears on the media and business magazine covers.

A good CEO’s core competencies should include strategic judgment—the ability to see beyond the daily activities and decide on the best route for navigating future industry conditions.

The CEO’s primary function, however, is hiring and firing.

At the end of the day, a good management team can make up for the CEO’s shortcomings. A CEO can set strategies, set long-term bets, and manage the finances, but if they fail to recruit a capable team, the company will inevitably fall short.

A good CEO must be able to recognize and recruit the best and fire those who don’t function while running the show. At a certain scale, the best CEOs are world-class recruiters.


A COO is an extremely ephemeral role that can encompass a lot of different responsibilities. While traditionally tasked to managing the operations of large scale supply-oriented businesses, the dawn of the internet era has seen the role shift – see Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, for example.

To simplify it, however, a COO must ensure that the business delivers day after day. The COO essentially sits on the pulse of the company, and acts as an extension of the CEO’s vision, guiding implementation and beating roadblocks.

The COO’s team also creates systems designed to monitor measurements and be decisive whenever the business aren’t delivering.

When hiring for COOs, the core competency is – and this might sound trite – management. A good COO is a systems thinker – someone who understands the big picture, and knows how to scale the day-to-day operations to reach it.


There is no clear-cut role for the company president. Some say the president supervises human resources, staff functions, strategy, and finance while the COO administers daily operations. 

Nevertheless, sometimes, the company president fills any operational cracks left by the CEO and COO. 

Regardless, you should think carefully about whether you require someone to occupy this role, or if your business can get by with just the CEO and COO.


Naturally, the company’s CFO manages the money. They make budgets and generate financing strategies.

The CFO figures out if it’s profitable for the business to buy or lease. They also set up control systems that scrutinize the financial health of the company.

(And yes, the CFO is usually the “killjoy” who won’t approve your request for funds to purchase that ultra-cool videoconferencing gear.)

A good CFO should always be busy working out which clients, products, and business lines are most profitable, so that next year you might be able to afford that sweet video conferencing equipment.

If numbers don’t keep you awake at night, you have to recruit someone who does.

Money is the lifeblood of any business, and cash flow is essential in entrepreneurship. Cash flow management is a very underrated part of enterprise – a good CFO can synchronize a cash flow dance that maximizes growth and minimizes risk.


The CMO develops the company’s marketing strategy and also supervises its implementation. In more tech-driven organizations the CMO is slowly starting to blur with other roles, like CGO (Chief Growth Officer) and CPO (Chief Product Officer)

A good CMO should have in-depth industry knowledge which helps to position the brand, distinguish it from the competition, enlist distributors, and ensure that customers crave for your product.

If the success of your business depends heavily on demand generation, then you need to hire a CMO.


The Company’s CTO has to stay abreast of the latest technology trends, incorporate such trends into the business strategy, and ensure that the company remains up to date when necessary.

While the CTO used to be a niche hire, modern companies almost inevitably need a CTO; as they say, every business is a software business nowadays.

Importance of Executive Hiring

Identifying and employing the most suitable candidates for your company’s executive level is critical to the long-term success of the business.

Since the decisions of the next department heads will shape the existing workplace culture as well as the future of the business, the process of executive hiring needs to be handled with maximum awareness and priority.

Finding the Right Team Members

Sadly, good executive employees are scarce and highly sought after. Because their decisions will either make or break the business, you’ll want to hire the best.

Recruiting executives is no easy task. Classified ads, online bulletin boards, and newspapers are not the ideal route to take. And making mass-market advertisements will only attract people who haven’t got any other job prospects.

If you have a sufficient budget available, executive search agencies are a good option for finding promising talent and adding input for hire.

Even though their fees are quite expensive, they conduct their due diligence and provide you with already screened candidates, which can be a significant time-saver.

These agencies usually have a reservoir of executive talent and can likely connect with candidates you wouldn’t be able to approach by yourself.

Search firms may even specialize by industry, location, function, and level of qualification, so if you choose to engage one, ensure that you know what you are getting.

Networking is another proven method of finding potential hires (and this is where that CEO guy/gal comes in handy).

A company needs to build its own professional network that it can inform about the kind of executive you are searching for. Then arrange one-on-one introductory sessions to assess the chemistry.

While networking, stay away from general networking forums. Be direct about what you would like.

If you’re looking to recruit a CMO for your law firm, attend more Legal Service conferences, which attract top marketing executives from various law firms. Networking can work well, but make sure that it’s targeted.

Related: How to Be an Effective Group Member

Interviewing Guidelines

The interview is one of the most important parts of the hiring process, since it allows you to get to know the candidate on a personal level. When the time comes to have a sit down with the potential employee, there are some few things worth knowing that can make the process a little easier:

Ensure That The Candidate Knows The Job

Executive hires have a much higher bar for “context” than regular employees. A staff employee not knowing all the nuances of the job requirements is fine. An executive should know everything about the job, company & industry – if not, pass.

Assess Chemistry

Can this candidate be trusted? Will other people like to spend time around them? Culture fit is far more important for executive hires because they set the tone for the entire organization. 

Check References

Do the brilliant claims of the candidate reflect in the comments of their past colleagues and subordinates? Find concrete details of their deliverables.

And remember, in small businesses, cultural issues are sometimes just as important as the job itself.

Are they smarter than you?

This is a good principle to follow: Each new executive should boost the average IQ of your company; hire executives who are smarter than you.

Related: 5 Entrepreneurial Mindsets to Utilize in Your Own Business

Observe Learning Ability

Is the candidate prone to repeating previous mistakes? Or do they learn quickly from their errors and adjust that knowledge to suit your company?

Utilize Behavior Description Techniques

During the executive hiring process, don’t ask questions about principles, knowledge, and idealistic stories. Instead, ask the potential executive employee to share details of specific past events. Such accounts will expose their values, capabilities, and skills.

For instance, a future CFO may be asked to describe how they set up and managed the previous budgets they handled.

Closing the Deal

After you have found the executive you would like to employ, you’ll probably need to pitch them before you find yourself handing out those employment forms.

There aren’t any standard regulations for the best contract to offer successful candidates. Hourly workers might be delighted to receive cash, but executives are not so easily pleased.

Company executives often want assets, stock options, inflated pay, as well as annual bonuses.

Given that the job of the executive is to make sure that the whole company succeeds, you can use bonus plans and stock options to link their earnings to the overall performance of the company.

Stock options can be connected with consistent performance, while profit sharing and bonuses should be founded on the previous year’s results.

Naturally, not all executives yearn for stock. Preferably, you would like to employ a capable person who is content with a demanding job and modest income. And they are out there!

Well trained individuals who value family time, a challenging job, and fun culture.

You can gain a good understanding of a person’s core values from the new hire paperwork, which will help to craft better deals that will please them in a manner that goes beyond mere dollars.

Handing Over To Your Executives

After new employee forms have been properly documented and all the members of your executive team are committed, next comes the hardest part: trust.

Doubts will plague you at every turn. A new executive is like introducing a new parent to your child – it’s not going to be easy.

Still, trust is essential because once the executive team members have joined the fray, you have to allow them to take charge by accepting full responsibility for their decisions or indecisions.

Remember that you have hired an executive team, and they must be accountable for the wellbeing of the company; this means defining their roles, the deliverables each one is responsible for and within what timeframe.

It is also worth discussing in advance how you will handle disagreements. Set processes in place right away and be stringent at enforcing them.

These people were hired on the premise that their decision making should be better than yours. Therefore when there is conflict, if you did a good job, chances are that they are right and you are wrong.

Agree early about how you will make the call, ensuring that the company benefits most from constructive disagreements. Just bear in mind that if you agree on everything, some of you are redundant.

Final Thoughts

Entrepreneurship is all about going for those things that are beyond what you alone could achieve. Your job is not to struggle alone to attain the goal; it’s to assemble a team that can.

While it’s hard for a founder to loosen the reigns, it’s essential for a business to scale that it starts hiring talented executives. There’s a learning curve for the executive hiring process – and an incredibly long recruitment process, usually – but the payout is well worth it. A company’s success relies on its people, and there are no people more essential to a company’s future than its executives.

If you’ve done your job and assembled a dream team, their success will be your success.

Related: What Is the Best Strategy for CEO Communication?

Employees laughing while looking at laptops

Is Your Employment Branding Strategy Working? Here’s what you need to know

Is Your Employment Branding Strategy Working? Here’s what you need to know 992 646 VP Legacies

In today’s competitive job market, there might be plenty of candidates lining up and waiting for interviews for a position at a prime organization.

However, that doesn’t mean that these are the most ideal candidates on the market.

It’s no knock on the current individuals seeking employment. But as specific positions increase in expertise, pay, responsibilities, and overall impact on the company, it becomes increasingly more challenging to find the right fit.

So, businesses face a unique challenge. Top-level talents aren’t going to burst through doors desperately looking for employment after reading a job posting on LinkedIn, so it’s important to incorporate the right employee branding strategies through communication.

The fact is, most top-notch professionals already work well-paid jobs in prominent positions they deem fulfilling. They aren’t fervently sending out resumes and cover letters to anyone who’ll accept them.

Furthermore, if they’re considering a change in their workplace, the chances are these gifted people are already in talks with another respected organization. And it’s likely a result of recruitment efforts as opposed to job hunting.

What’s crucial is how organizations present – or brand – themselves to humanize themselves and create personal connection.

Now, that sounds like how businesses market their products to consumers. And for a good reason. Extremely talented employees are as valuable or more valuable to an organization as consumers. Instead of thinking candidates are just happy to have a shot at a job, it’s time to start shifting the employer-employee paradigm towards a brand-consumer dynamic.

What will really make an employer branding strategy stand out is emphasizing the way you build relationships and personal connections. Potential employees do not just want to see a boring laundry list of company perks, but a thoughtful explanation of a business where they’re likely to stay.

After all, it’s through these unique minds that organizations thrive in the long run.

Let’s take a deep dive into this topic.

Employment Brand Examples: Taking a Lesson from the Sporting World

Professional sports provide a shining example of the effectiveness of how employment branding helps recruit top talent.

Teams with savvy marketing that know how to leverage fanbases, location, facilities, and history, attract elite players.

Organizations that show players that they’re willing to bend over backwards to meet their demands are the ones that attract premier talent as well. This is a marketing strategy that builds on personal connections to drive communication.

Interestingly, in many sports, (such as the NBA), the power is 100% in the hands of the star players. And realistically, the business landscape is similar in 2019. Where most of the workforce consists of millennials, who change jobs more often than any previous generation, costing the U.S.$30.5 billion in turnover, annually.

It’s no coincidence that the star athletes in the NBA are also millennials.

This is a generation that’s perfectly aware of their own worth.


As such, the cream of the crop will select the company that sells them on the opportunity, the why and personal connection —not the company that acts like they’re doing a candidate a favor just by offering them an interview.

The Proof Is in the Pudding

One of the most effective ways of recruiting top talent is as straightforward as it gets—be a great place to work the focuses on strong relationships and personal connection. That’s how the top companies set themselves apart as an attractive employer brand.

Savvy candidates will catch on fast to a toxic environment that takes advantage of employees, and run the other way. There are even stories where talent has refused job offers because of the poor behavior displayed by management during the interview. While this form of corporate communication does not occur through official marketing channels, the behavior of management clues potential employees in to the way people interact within a company.

Yes, employment branding and marketing strategies are wholly necessary for ensuring that quality candidates are enticed to apply. However, effective recruitment starts internally. If current employees love their jobs and feel strong relationships with those around them, word will spread.

More specifically, in today’s landscape, job reviews on sites like Glassdoor are more prevalent than ever.  Organizations can’t be passive part in the process. No, that doesn’t mean coaxing employees into writing positive reviews. It means building strong relationships to create personal connection, giving them every possible reason to write sparkling reviews that attract ideal candidates.

That could involve anything from implementing a “bring your dogs to work” policy to putting a ping pong table in the break room. Before you do either of these things, it is important to communicate with and talk to current employees and ask them what they want instead of just doing it haphazardly. Then, it’ll  be something that harnesses a fulfilling and empathetic work environment.

Also, don’t squeeze every ounce of juice out of current team members. Because in 2019, work-life balance has become a pressing issue. Millennials want jobs that support their lifestyle, and that can’t be done when 12-14-hour-days are the norm. Ensure that you communicate regularly with your employees and pay attention to their work load so that they are performing efficiently and do not feel overwhelmed. If they work at a steady pace, they are more likely to stay with your company and even help you attract future employees.

Remember, word of mouth is everything to today’s most viable candidates when it comes to employer branding. This form of talent branding rests on the knowledge that job seekers rely on recommendations more than any other generation. With more online sources about employee satisfaction than ever, they will do their research on organizations before deciding where they’re going to work. People care about purpose driven companies more than ever

Companies can do their best to manufacture employment branding strategies that convince candidates they’ve cultivated a fantastic professional environment. But the one guaranteed way to make this happen is to establish a fruitful, exciting, and thriving place to work by building strong, personal connections.


Related: Monochronic vs. Polychronic Cultures: What are the Differences?


Why Use Other Employer Branding Strategies?

With strong principles and practices, any company will be an optimal spot for top talents. Still, even with an army of employees writing positive reviews, it may not be enough to attract ideal candidates.

These branding strategies must be multi-layered. So, one facet of branding could be incentivizing employees to leave positive reviews on websites like Glassdoor – but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. What’s most important is that you strengthen personal connection with your employees from the very beginning so that these reviews essentially write themselves.

It’s reported that organizations who invest in a comprehensive employer branding are 3x more likely to make a quality hire. Also, companies with a strong employer brand see a decrease in hiring costs than those with weaker strategies.

How to Create an Employer Branding Strategy

Here are five steps to follow that’ll help establish a strong employer branding strategy:

Define goals:

  • Employers need to know the exact purpose of what they’re trying to do, or else the plan will remain aimless
  • Overall goals can be to get more applicants, get more high-quality candidates, increase candidate engagement, etc.

Craft a candidate persona:

  • Candidate personas are an employer’s most desired talent
  • It allows organizations to target marketing messages and job descriptions accurately

Establish an employee value proposition (EVP)

  • Utilizing an HR marketing strategy, the employee value proposition is why candidates seek out a company and stay there for the long haul
  • It’s usually comprised of factors such as compensation, benefits, career, work environment, and culture
  • The EVP targets the ideal candidate persona

Figure out the channels to promote the employer brand

  • Where is the target candidate most likely to be reached?
  • There are a multitude of touchpoints with candidates before they’re hired
  • Some options are:
    • Social media
    • Job posting websites
    • Current employees
    • Workshops
    • Inbound recruiting
    • Job ads
    • Application Process

Establish metrics and assess the effectiveness of strategies

  • Like any business practice, it’s integral to find a way to measure success and assess the efficiency of any initiative
  • Regularly examine whether the employer branding is producing the best results and make changes where necessary

Using All the Available Tools for Employer Branding

With a well-managed employer brand, 94% of applicants are likely to apply to a position. The same research shows that 91% of candidates won’t apply to employer brands with a weak web presence.

Potential employees want to see that organizations care about their image. When companies don’t take advantage of the wealth of digital resources, such as social media, blogs, videos, etc., this acts as a red flag. People (especially top performers) don’t want to work for companies that are behind the times and don’t seem interested in maintaining an employer brand image.

Conversely, companies that continually promote internal events and produce engaging web content will put on full display that they’re ideal employers. Furthermore, candidates want to see employer brands that give employees a voice and possess innovative, imaginative mindsets.

Without utilizing the tools of today, an employer brand will seem archaic, behind the times, and undesirable. With digital resources abound, it should be clear that potential employees place a high value on communication; it’s up to your company to create a digital and personal strategy to speak to these needs.

Related: 10 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover in 2019

Attracting Passive Candidates

The primary obstacle when seeking elite talent is that these people already have well-paying jobs and likely aren’t looking for anything new.

Unfortunately, those are the exact people organizations need to reach the next level. Sure, there are diamonds in the rough out there. But businesses require leaders with proven track records for success who’ll pave the way for everyone else.  It’s only from there that internal efforts can develop and sustain top-performing teams.

These enticing individuals are known as passive candidates. The sought-after people who other businesses attempt to woo with well-worded LinkedIn messages and (in some cases) expensive dinners with a big sales pitch.  By building strong relationships and personal connection, you are more likely to attract passive candidates in the future. If a passive candidate consistently comes across positive messaging from you even when that candidate is not actively seeking a job, they are more likely to remember you when they are seeking a new position more actively.

A strong employer brand is crucial with passive candidates.

First and foremost, a good employment branding strategy starts with reaching out to somebody through an online resource. Most likely, it’d be on LinkedIn or through email, depending on how the contact information was obtained. This initial touchpoint should include the following:

  • An introduction to the recruiter and the company
  • Reasons for reaching out and why this move would benefit the candidate
  • Reasons why the position is relevant to their experience
  • Which aspects of their resume make them a good fit for the job

It sounds like a sales email, but a recruitment message requires strong employer branding and should reflect the organization in the most favorable light. A recruitment message is a small facet of corporate communication, but it will create the first impression of your company to a potential hiring prospect.

Beyond personalized messaging, employee referral programs are probably one of the most effective employment branding initiatives to recruiting passive candidates. Enthusiastic employees doing everything in their power to bring somebody on board will monumentally bolster a brand’s image. Of course, that means going beyond the HR department to attract passive candidates.

Throughout this process of converting passive candidates into lucrative hires, it’s essential to keep in mind that they have most of the power. Don’t expect them to have a resume on hand or to be prepared for skill-testing questions.

Alternatively, it’s the organization that should do enough brand planning to be ready to answer the tough questions and prove why they’re worthy. It’s the candidate who’s being sold on making a significant change in their career path.

Social Media is Integral to Employer Branding

A LinkedIn survey shows that 50% of all professionals follow a brand on social media to find out about employment opportunities.

Now, it’s all well and good to open a plethora of social media accounts and post without rhyme, reason, or rhythm. However, there’s a need to be calculated and strategic with each piece of messaging to attract quality candidates.

On social media, brands must be conscious of crafting an authentic voice – not one that’s littered with HR buzz-speak. It should also be friendly, approachable, unique, and consistent. Brands should utilize a corporate communication strategy that speaks to why their employees are satisfied, and why future employees will want to stay. Instead of using bland hiring lingo, tune in to relationship-building between current workers and what positive things they have to say.

Consistency in employment branding is most critical because the same people aren’t necessarily making all the posts. But each piece of messaging must be uniform and seem like it’s made by the same person.

Plus, the voice of an employer brand must speak directly to the candidate persona.

Then, there’s the matter of sharing engaging content, which can be anything from photos of office space to educational videos and workshops, etc. Either way, the content needs to tell a captivating brand story and create personal connection.

Also, it’s a top priority to spark a conversation with audiences and respond to their questions and observations.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter are the most mainstream social media channels to post from. Choose one or two of the platforms—trying to post from all the options will over-extend messaging efforts and hamper the quality of the content.

Whereas, streamlining content towards the one or two platforms where the candidate persona spends the majority of their time is the most sound strategy.

Conclusion: Shore Up Employer Branding Strategies and Hire the Right People

It’s time to see job candidates as consumers and employers as products. This kind of employment branding is the only way organizations can hire top performers who’ll take them to the next level and set them apart from the competition. Employer branding is the most vital part of establishing a workplace as the proverbial ‘place to be.’

But employer branding won’t take care of itself. It requires careful forethought and a concerted strategy that encompasses various forms of active and passive recruitment. While ensuring that current employees feel fulfilled to encourage word-of-mouth branding is a necessity, there’s a need to strengthen other facets of the process. That means crafting a multi-layered strategy and consistently adjusting and amending to meet the inclinations of the candidate persona. Think of employer branding as one of the most important forms ofcorporate communication. By showing how you interact with current employees, you can leave a good impression on future employees as a company with strong relationships and a knack for building personal connections.

To find out how your company can craft effective employment branding, and for helpful educational tools, visit VP Legacies to see how we can help. Create change in your company for higher employee and customer retention by remembering that people matter.

Related: Employer Branding


Red emergency pull handle

Crisis Management for Businesses

Crisis Management for Businesses 974 638 VP Legacies

Whether it’s a small-scale error or a company-wide occurrence, mistakes happen and moments of crisis are common.

A crisis can result in significant economic consequences and damage to a company’s brand. Mitigating this can be a long and expensive process. Plus the more parties there are involved, the much higher the stakes are. It is important to keep employees and shareholders happy, so executives should structure and manage their company in such a way that crises are less likely to occur.

This is why every business needs a crisis management plan in place, regardless of its size. These preventative measures lessen the likelihood of a crisis and, in case there is one, ensure that the right protocols exist to minimize further damage.

The key component of a crisis management plan is effective communication. To implement an overall crisis plan, it is vital to consider a strategy for both internal and external communication. While managing a crisis, your company needs to control the flow of information to ensure that key stakeholders understand what is happening without gaining access to excess details that could potentially cause liabilities.

But even the best planning with the best crisis communication isn’t fool-proof. Both internal and external factors can cause a business crisis. They can be small issues that grow over time or sudden issues with an immediate threat, such as a data breach. In either case, a crisis can significantly disrupt a company’s ability to carry out daily functions normally. It might put the entire health of the company at significant risk with permanent long-term effects. 

Any event that might negatively affect a business in the short or long run can be classified as a crisis. It needs to be managed according to a Crisis Management strategy and plan.


What Is Crisis Management?

For any business crisis, Crisis Management is the term for resolving a negative impact on a company. Crisis management and crisis response mean preventing further damage while allowing the business to recover quickly from any damage.

Crisis Management involves confronting the issue and those involved directly, as well as managing its ripple effects with various stakeholders and public relations entities. To maintain personal connections with stakeholders and minimize damage to relationships, build a communication strategy that keeps everyone feeling informed and assured.


Why Is Crisis Management Important?

Crisis management is an important strategy, which is why plans to manage a crisis can be both costly and detrimental to a business. A crisis management strategy also holds companies liable for any wrongdoings and restores the public’s trust. In one famous PR crisis, the management of one Starbucks location called the police on two African-American men who did not order anything, and said they were waiting for a friend. The men were arrested. Rather than ignore complaints or defend their actions, Starbucks issued an apology and closed its United States locations for one day to conduct anti-bias training. This internal communication strategy helped employees understand the gravity of the personnel crisis and sent the external message that Starbucks would do better to eliminate racial bias. 


Types of Crisis Management

There are three categories of Crisis Management that exist in an organization:


1. Responsive

Responsive Crisis Management involves having an action plan ready for handling various types of crises that may affect a business. These plans are designed to be acted upon immediately. They should include clear guidelines and protocols on what to do, who to involve, and crisis response to outside entities. Responsive plans generally concern rare but somewhat predictable financial or crises with employees.

Related: Is Your Employment Branding Strategy Working? Here’s What You Need to Know

A communication strategy for responsive crisis management will focus on internal stakeholders, ensuring that they know how to respond to safety and liability issues as well as how to communicate externally with other stakeholders who may be affected. This communication strategy may not require frequent contact or excessive details, since you cannot predict exactly how a crisis may unfold.

2. Proactive

Proactive Crisis Management is also about anticipating potential future issues and having plans in place to prevent them. However, these plans are generally about crises that are easy to prepare for but difficult to control ahead of time. For example, companies avoid accidents by ensuring that employees follow safety protocols. Companies examine safety studies and put protocols in place in the case of a natural disaster. These forms of crisis management and early crisis control may involve actively monitoring signs of crises forming in early stages.

Proactive crisis management is another process that requires long-term corporate communication. Employees must be informed about safety protocols from the moment they start working at your company. Both employees and executives should frequently be updated on changes in regulations and protocol.

3. Reactive

Reactive Crisis Management focuses on damage minimization during later phases of crisis. It’s the third form of crisis management that covers the unknown and involves protocols put in place that can be applied to any type of crisis that doesn’t have a dedicated plan in place. This type of crisis management is the hardest to solve and the most complex, since it covers an unknowable number of unpredictable risks for a business.

Since reactive crisis management must occur quickly, it is important to implement a communication strategy that is concise and action-oriented. While rebuilding long-term professional or client relationships is also a key component, a clear and concise plan for primary actors involved in the crisis management plan must take priority.


Types of Crises to Be Prepared For

There are many crises a business needs to be prepared for. Here are a few common forms:



Any accident within an organization will need crisis management and streamlined crisis communication. For example, a fire at the head office or manufacturing plant can result in employee injuries and a shutdown of operations. These severe accidents can also be a PR crisis if the origin of the problem turns out to be negligence in enforcing safety standards, in which case crisis response to the media dictates how long the problem will last.

Rebuilding relationships with employees is as important as rebuilding relationships with external stakeholders, if not more so. Communicate with employees to regain their trust so that they know future accidents will be minimized, and so that they are aware of potential compensation. This step will dictate the way media and external stakeholders will view your company, and you can proceed by admitting culpability and summarizing how you’ll take action. 


Natural disasters

Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods can have long-lasting impacts on a business. They can result in extensive damage to infrastructure and shut down day to day operations for a long period of time. Crisis communication during early crisis phases is especially important in preventing injuries.

For natural disasters, personnel look to you in order to figure out what to do. It is important to communicate with employees in a calm manner to ensure that they feel safe. Since you will often have to share difficult news about budget cuts and potential job losses, deploy information with as much compassion as possible and avoid using too much automation to get out this messaging.


Technology issues

With many organizations turning to increasingly complex systems to run critical workflows and operations, technology disasters are proving to be the most common, expensive, and ill-prepared crises a business might face. These crises might be due to malevolent security breaches and hacks that disrupt technology-powered operations. They might be cyber-crime security breaches. Technology crises might also come in the form of system-wide outages due to internal overuse or improper use of tools.

Employ a rapidfire communication strategy with channels that can reach everyone with as much speed as possible. This will ensure that none of the employees exacerbate the issue at hand and maximize their own security before the problem is fixed.


Conflict of Interest

Even political and regulatory issues can lead to a crisis. Any conflict of interest can lead to a business crisis if it wasn’t identified earlier on, and can result in damage to an organization’s brand. Regulatory missteps can also be crises if policies are breached blatantly. These crises originate from poor communication between departments within a company, and can be easily prevented if companies take steps to integrate business operations.

Since conflicts of interests can leave clients and partners feeling overlooked, it is important to maintain a sense of personal connection with these stakeholders. Communicate with them in person to execute damage control due to political issues. For regulatory issues, issue out messaging in the most time-efficient channels.


Public perception issues

Many businesses face media or public relations issues such as the spread of false rumors or product issues when used by consumers in the market. Keep in mind that PR crises might also arise as a byproduct as another kind of crisis. True or false, all allegations need to be appropriately managed and addressed so that the PR crisis doesn’t cause long-lasting damage to the business.

Issues of public perception usually require a more comprehensive communication plan that uses multiple forms of messaging. This may include press releases, interviews, and even ad campaigns. First, make sure that everyone in the company who is communicating to outside parties understands the strategy and voice you choose to implement.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Hiring Executives For Your Company


Financial issues

When certain assets lose value or a business cannot pay its debt, financial crisis might ensue. A business needs to be prepared for sudden market shifts or competitor threats, even if they are in good financial standing. Prepare employees for financial issues with anticipatory messaging so that budget cuts do not come as a surprise.


Personnel crisis

Employees or other related stakeholders that carry out unethical or illegal behavior in a work-related interaction are a threat to a business. For example, employees sometimes leave a business office with intellectual or confidential material, and share it with a third party for personal gain or even by mistake. In such cases, guidelines need to be in place on how to handle these issues, who to contact, and what communication to disseminate internally and to the public. To provide crisis control for this particular example, many companies have employees sign non-disclosure agreements.

It is important to communicate directly with someone who breaches protocol so that they understand the damage they have caused. If an employee feels threatened by someone, ensure that they feel safe by communicating with them one-on-one.


Have a Crisis Management Plan in Place

Developing a Crisis Management Plan is an essential step in crisis control for a business. 

This plan lays out a way for employees in an organization to classify a crisis and then follow the relevant process or steps to managing the crisis and communicate to employees. Some companies even have a designated crisis manager.

The crisis control plan is developed to have any proactive measures in place that can prevent the crisis from developing, and any active monitoring sequences in place. If a crisis occurs, the plan provides the guidelines to mitigate any damage and ensure recovery as fast as possible.  

Here are some guidelines for drafting a good crisis management plan:


  • Crisis communication between the individual personnel, groups, and teams that are required for crisis control. This will include tasking directly responsible individuals with managing the crisis response, and noting others who should be kept in the loop on progress (like the CEO)
  • Training and refresher courses on how to handle the crisis should be outlined. Examples include fake fire drills or disaster response exercises that the business must perform. It should also include specialized training for those directly involved with managing the crisis, and mandatory recertifications.
  • Plans should include clear and detailed steps to follow during a crisis. This is important, and a business needs to act fast. This is why the steps have to be clear and without ambiguity.
  • Outline any relevant tools or systems that can be used to monitor an impending crisis and manage the aftermath. For example, building fire systems that need to be operated in the event of a fire. 
  • Relevant external contacts should be listed. This should be contact information such as the Police, Emergency Medical Service, SEC, etc. It’ll depend on the type of crisis at hand. 
  • A communication plan should be included here and list out any mass communication that should be sent out to employees and external media to ensure no rumors or misinformation is spread. 

Communication strategy functions on two levels in a crisis management plan. First of all, the crisis management plan itself often involves communication to external media outlets. Second of all, and more importantly, effective communication is required throughout the entire process to ensure that all of the employees know what to do. An effective communication plan will ensure that personal connections and long-lasting relationships with your employees can whether the storm of any crisis.


Final Thoughts

All businesses should have a crisis management plan in place regardless of size. The dangers can be catastrophic, both monetarily or even physically – leading to loss of life. As a result, it’s important that any potential hazards are planned for and considered by using proper crisis risk protocol. Handling crises will also avoid any permanent negative effects on the business and any punitive or criminal issues from external authorities after the crisis is over. 

Communication during a crisis is highly important. To help you figure out an effective way to relay information during and before a crisis, VP Legacies can help you build an effective corporate communication strategy. After finding your pains and gains, we’ll provide custom-built solutions that will help you be able to communicate in any scenario, including the very worst of crises.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Building a Corporate Communication Strategy


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