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Stressful situations have a way of bringing out the best or the worst in people. A crisis at work – whether it’s a small problem or a massive emergency – tests your leadership abilities.

If you are calm, confident and decisive, demonstrating coolheaded action and effective communication skills, you will minimize the damage and gain the trust of your team. On the other hand, if you are frantic, nervous and unsure of yourself, making rash decisions and not disseminating information well, you can make a bad situation worse and lose the confidence of your employees. How you manage a crisis is an important aspect of your leadership style.

Effective Communication Skills for Problem-Solving

1. Evaluate the situation.

Before you can communicate how to handle a crisis to your employees, you need to assess the problem. Find out as much information as you can, as quickly and efficiently as possible. What happened? Who was involved? What are the short-term and long-term repercussions? What are the most immediate needs?

2. Tackle the top priorities first.

Once you have determined what the most pressing priorities are, develop a plan to address those first. Gather key members of your team who have the skills you need and analyze the information you have gathered to address the problems at hand. Ask questions and try to anticipate glitches before they occur. What are your goals? What results need to happen? Who should be involved? What could go wrong? What is Plan B (as well as Plan C, Plan D…)?

3. Communicate and delegate.

Inform the rest of your team about the crisis and outline the steps you are taking to resolve it. Effective communications skills here are essential to create organizational transparency and ensure that all employees are on the same page. Delegate tasks, and tell each person what he or she is responsible for and why it is important. Try to predict questions employees may have and offer as much information as you can. Let them voice their concerns or suggestions as well and give them the support they need to complete their tasks.

4. Take action.

It’s time to execute your plan! Since you have organized meticulously and arranged contingency plans in case anything goes wrong, all you need to do now is put your ideas into action. Stay calm and be available to your team for troubleshooting along the way.

How have you successfully managed a crisis at work?

Hone your effective communication skills in the EDSI course, Assertive Communications.

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