In the event of a crisis, we’ll always rely on our training.  Even when your crisis management planning is top-notch, if you’re not practicing it, you’re risking that your team will be confused when you most need them to act.

This is why crisis management drills are so important.  They give you and your team, practical experience, and role-playing opportunities.  Drills are effective at helping them internalize the policies and procedures of your plan.

What is a Crisis Management Plan?

A crisis management plan can also be called a business continuity plan.  I like to think of it as job security. It is a tool to ensure that your business continues, even in the event of a crisis.

So that we all still have jobs when the emergency is over.

The plan includes policies and procedures to follow before, during, and after a crisis to get the business back to normal operations. 

What is in a Crisis Management Plan?

Good crisis management planning includes:

  • Identifying possible crisis’ that may affect your business
  • Understanding the results and effects on the business, if they do happen
  • Planning for what you can do in advance to prepare for the event
  • Planning for what you will do during the event to ensure your business gets back to normal.

Typical events that you may plan for are weather-related, earthquakes, floods, and other Act of God type events.  But also human-caused events like employee violence, bomb threats, stikes. Consider anything that may shut your business down or cause a work stoppage.

Have fun with it, add in an alien attack or zombie apocalypse – why not?  Maybe zombies need your widgets.

I like to always think of sinkholes because they come without warning and with very little you can plan ahead for, and they take a while to recover from.  So if a sinkhole opened up under your operation, what would you do?

Adding Drills to Your Crisis Management Planning

When most people think of a crisis management drill they think of those practical types of drills that you see our military or emergency services do.  Unfortunately, that kind is not feasible for most operations (I know, bums me out too)

But adding in a simple tabletop drill exercise can give you amazing results.  When done right, your management team will feel more confident to handle any emergency.  You will even find that the more drills you do, the response is similar.

Tabletop drills are a process of reviewing a crisis scenario and talking through the steps everyone would take if it happened.  You can even throw in some curveballs to make the imaginary crisis more exciting.

An aftershock that caused a building collapse; an employee having a medical emergency after evacuation; the media showing up to the scene – you get it, right?

By saying “This happened…., what are you going to do?” and asking probing questions, you can get everyone thinking.  It is a great team-building exercise as everyone learns what each member is good at and in charge of.

These drills also expose any gaps in your crisis management planning, your data collection, policies, procedures, and checklists.

The best part: They get everyone thinking about safety and gives them a better understanding of why safety and the safety rules are so important.

Document and Learn from the Drill

After each drill be sure to document your results in an after-action review:

  • What did you do well?
  • What can you improve?
  • What corrective action do you need to take now, before this imaginary crisis happens in real life?


I would love to hear your thoughts on this week’s episode.  Do you have a crisis management plan? How do you do your crisis drills?  What is the act of God that you plan for?

Highlights From This Episode:

  • Review of what a Business Continuity & Crisis Management plan is.
  • Considerations to plan for and why it’s important to have one
  • Typical elements of planning
    • Planning the drill
    • Creating the scenario
    • Who to have in the meeting
    • Conducting the drill
    • After action review
    • Conducting a tabletop crisis management drill

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Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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