Crisis management is a weekly CFO event


ChartNot every CFO has to deal with a crisis once a week or more, but just about half say they do. Accountempts says it’s a frequent enough occurrence that strategies should be in place to deal with them. There’s also some good news to share.

“From data breaches and social media gaffes to a top employee quitting or a financial reporting error, managers can face many kinds of crises,” said Bill Driscoll, New England district president of Accountemps. “Creating detailed plans for dealing with potential problems before they occur can keep a headache from ballooning into a full-fledged catastrophe.”

The good news is that when this survey was taken ten years ago, 80% of respondents said they had at minimum a crisis a week, and many had more.

Today, only 8% say they deal with several in an average day, compared to 19% in 2004.

Crises 2014 2004
A few times a day 8% 19%
Once a day 4% 16%
A few times a week 17% 36%
Once a week 20% 9%
A few times a month 23% 19%
Once a month 26% 1%
Don’t know 2% 0%
Source: Accountemps

Accountemps recommends the following:

* Create crisis plans. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Put plans in place for possible crisis situations and conduct regular “fire drills” so your team knows exactly what to do and who to consult in the event of an emergency. This will help your staff stay cool-headed when the pressure’s on, while cutting down on response time.

* Be proactive. Regularly checking in on critical projects can minimize last-second scrambling. Make sure your team is aligned, on track, and has the necessary resources and information to meet their objectives.

* Establish a culture of transparency. Encourage honest communication among your team. Promote smart, strategic risk-taking and create an environment where employees feel comfortable coming to you to admit errors or share concerns.

* Drill down on data. Leveraging data analytics tools can enable you to spot potential problems — and correct course — earlier than in years past. Business analysts can help you spot hurdles on the horizon, such as a sudden decrease in sales.

* Learn from mistakes. Take the time to understand what went wrong. Put key programs and campaigns under the microscope and strive to pinpoint the root causes of issues so you avoid similar problems in the future.