Communications When Things Go Wrong

Communications When Things Go Wrong

Winning Friends In A Crisis – How To Manage Communications When Things Go Wrong!

How you handle communications when things go wrong is important.  Bad communications when things go wrongthings happen in all organisations. Sometime the problem lies within the organization. Sometimes it is the environment outside that causes a crisis. To respond well as a manager, you need a strategy that will do the following

  • Deal with the problem causing the crisis;
  • Assist any victims and those directly affected;
  • Communicate with, and enlist, the support of employees.
  • Inform those indirectly affected; and
  • Manage the media and all external stakeholders in the organization.

Seven dimensions

For communications when things go wrong, there are seven dimensions to consider. These will be  important if you want to communicate in a way that limits damage. Particularly to the reputation of the organization. There may be limitations on what you can say for legal reasons. But, the nearer you get to covering the seven dimensions, the more effective your communications will be.

The seven dimensions to consider for communications when things go wrong

  1.  Candor. A public acknowledgement that a problem exists and a commitment to put it right, usually wins trust. And it will win respect for the organization.
  2. Explanation. Explain promptly and clearly what went wrong. Base this on the knowledge available at the time and any legal constraints. If there is not yet full information, make a commitment to report regularly. Tell people when they can expect more information. Continue making reports until full information is available or public interest dissipates.
  3. Declaration. Make a clear public commitment to take steps to address and resolve any issues raised by the incident.
  4. Contrition. Make it clear that you, and those in charge of the organization, are sorry for what has happened. Show empathy and regret. If there is reason to be embarrassed, then show embarrassment about what has happened and for allowing it to happen.
  5. Consultation: Ask for help from pubic authorities and anyone else who can provide it, if that will help those hurt or prevent this from happening again. Do this even if it means accepting help from opponents or competitors.
  6. Commitment: Be prepared to make a promise that, to the best of the organisation’s ability, similar situations will never occur again.
  7. Restitution: Find a way to quickly pay the price, compensate and make restitution.

Go the extra mile

Show in your communications that you are prepared to go beyond what people would expect, or what is legally required, to put things right. Adverse situations remedied quickly, usually cost far less. They are controversial for shorter periods of time.

This is the gold standard. The closer you get to it, the more respect there will be for you, and your organization. Plus the sooner the public are likely to forgive, if not forget.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link



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