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Disaster Preparedness People Plans: Post Pandemic

Disaster Preparedness People Plans: Post Pandemic

Over the last couple of months, businesses and industries have been forced to make tough decisions to survive the pandemic that rocked the world. Businesses had to lay off employees or put them on furlough, some businesses closed their doors temporarily, while others closed forever. It is apparent that most businesses were not prepared for what happened. Now that States are allowing businesses to reopen, it will be a while to see what the “New Normal” will look like for different industries.  Nonetheless, businesses can learn from what happened and start preparing for the next disaster.

I was talking to a small business owner who said she normally handles the CMO & CFO positions herself but had devoted all her time to the CFO position during the pandemic. She was busy trying to secure funding to keep the business alive, so she gave the CMO responsibilities to the Marketing Manager. This was more responsibility than he was used to but because of his training, he was ready to step in and took over without any hiccups.

Do you have a people plan in place for disaster preparedness? If not, then follow the steps below to make sure you are not caught by surprise when the next disaster strikes.

Here are seven steps to start building your disaster preparedness people plan:

  1. Identify Key Positions. In every business, there are key positions that keep things running smoothly no matter what gets thrown at the business. Identify the key positions in your business that are needed when an emergency happens.
  2. Select People. Identify the people that do not hold these positions but could be developed to step into those positions if needed in an emergency. Depending on the size of the company this might include multiple people for a single position. Some organizations have formal succession plans in place, so they have already identified people to fill key roles.
  3. Involve People. People are more supportive of initiatives when they are involved in developing the plan. Meet with the people selected and discuss what you are trying to accomplish. Get them to help determine what skills are needed to step into roles they could be called upon to fulfill, and how they should be trained (i.e. on the job cross-training, mentoring, classes, etc.).
  4. Create a Development Plan. This should be a formal plan in writing that includes the steps needed to be prepared to step into the key positions they would need to fill. Create checkpoints so that the acquired skills are tracked and people are developed in a timely manner.
  5. Implement the Plan. Create a formal roll out so the plan is communicated to everyone. Transparency is key so that people do not have to question what is going to happen when a disaster strikes.
  6. Practice the Plan. Just like you would practice a fire drill or earthquake drill take the time to practice your disaster preparedness people plane. Run some mock scenarios so people get practice stepping into those positions they are supposed to cover.
  7. Review the Plan Periodically. The business landscape continually evolves, so disaster preparedness people plans need to be reviewed and modified to keep up with changing business demands, key people, key positions and skills required to fulfill the roles.

“Hindsight is 20/20”, so we should be able to determine our key positions and people we depended on during this recent pandemic. Taking the time to shore up these positions and developing people to step in if needed give businesses added security. When the next disaster strikes, a Disaster Preparedness People Plan can be the difference between closing your doors for good or continuing to do business.

Download a free copy of Dale Carnegie’s Developing a Resilient Workforce: How Organizations Thrive in the Face of Adversity white paper.

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