The Aftermath — Business Communication Rules for Recovery from Hurricane Sandy

If you don’t mention it, you appear heartless; if you give in to it, you appear weak.  That is the fine line that each one of us faces in communicating with colleagues, customers, bosses, vendors, friends and family, in the aftermath of historic hurricane Sandy – and after every major national disaster, by the way.

No matter where you live, it is important to get it right. Because how you recover, and how you communicate during recovery – yours and others’ – can set the stage for business continuity, future growth, and for customer and employee loyalty, or the exact opposite.

Pain is not distributed equally in the aftermath of a disaster or crisis. Perhaps the mathematicians can explain why, but it is almost never a fair distribution. One person’s house stands, while his or her neighbor’s has been leveled by the waves, or a fallen tree. One business is out of power for two weeks, while across the street another business’ lights blink merrily, as if there is not a problem in the world.

So, in the aftermath, some are ready to get right back to work – “what’s the problem?” – while others are still in full recovery mode.

See The Aftermath — Business Communication Rules for Recovery from Hurricane Sandy, by Davia Temin for Forbes.




Emotional Tornados in Your Workplace
Can Be Just as Destructive as the Natural Kind!

If your company employs human beings, there are emotions at work. Emotions are part your company’s culture and need to be as astutely managed as any other potential disruption to your business.The old paradigm of separating humans from humanity during work hours is not only antiquated thinking, it’s high risk behavior.
Emotional management should not be the sole domain of a few employees. Everyone can be awake and aware of the concepts and tools in this new book to effectively manage and channel workplace emotions. Of course, just as there are gamblers in tornado alley who ignore the warning sirens, you get to decide how much risk your company can absorb.
Dr. Vali Hawkins Mitchell, a leading authority in the growing field of Emotional Continuity Management, makes a compelling business case that the human emotion factor has a calculable, direct impact on the fiscal bottom line. She describes an event involving two rowdy employees who became violent over a work-related decision and how its effects led to her provocative new insights into the cost of mismanaged emotions in the workplace:
Walking the halls, I saw, felt, and heard the disruptive effect of these two workers on 600 people. It was like experiencing the rubble of any other disaster. There was no physical wreckage, but the full range of emotions was exactly like that of any natural disaster. Everything was exposed and raw as if a common energy had stripped away the veneer of civilized behaviors. No infrastructure kept people safe in the presence of these out of control employees. People took sides, hid, ran, quit, overworked, underworked, ate too much, drank more, complained more, went silent, changed jobs, exited. They reacted as if all their system had been tossed into the air and was never going to land again. From that experience, I became sensitized to the differences between small gusts of emotions with no power and those with catastrophic force.
Small variations in behavior can be early warning signs of trouble. Dr. Vali explains her own Emotional Tornado V Chart based on the Fujita scale, a method to observe, predict, prepare, plan, and write policy to manage workplace the full range of workplace emotions. She details how to control the employee spinning after emotionally-charged events, such as the effects of an abusive manager, layoffs, employee illnesses or stressful family situations, suicides, and headlined homicides. She gives special emphasis to managing office bullies and workplace emotions before, during and after an emergency or disaster.
Dr. Vali offers these critical steps to all levels of management:
  1. Understand that emotions are going to happen, have measurable costs, can be managed in a compassionate manner that supports people and the bottom line, and don t go away just because they are suppressed, ignored, or devalued. In fact, they will distort and become even more lethal.
  2. Achieve realistic buy-in at the top – the CEO, owner, senior leadership – and briefly teach them key tools. With such awareness in place, emotions rising in the system can be reflected back into it in a healthy form with tools that increase loyalty and productivity. Managers will know that if a tornado breaks out, supports are already in place.
  3. Teach everyone, from the bottom up, tools to manage emotions. The primary key to emotional continuity management is that everyone is on the same team using the exact same tools, creating comradeship as well as intelligent procedures and policies.




“At the Business Continuity Institute, we have always defined our mission in terms of promoting the art and science of Business Continuity Management (BCM), and I have often been challenged about what we precisely mean by that phrase. The science part is easy – techniques and methods for ensuring operational continuity will suffice. However, the art side has been altogether more difficult to explain, but, now that we have this new book by Dr. Vali Hawkins Mitchell, I suspect that the art of BCM will no longer be hard to explain.
“I can now point questioners to The Cost of Emotions in the Workplace: The Bottom-Line Value of Emotional Continuity Management, confident that they will understand precisely what we mean. I wonder how many BCM professionals have ever considered an emotional tornado or an emotional terrorist as a major risk to their organization? Do they know how to read the warning signs that human emotions could spin out of control to cause a catastrophe? Well, they should, and after reading what Dr. Vali says in this book, they certainly will in the future.
“Traditionally, in the world of BCM we talk about risks and threats to our organizations, such as computer failures, natural disasters, supply chain disruption, or a pandemic. This book examines the risk and threats that people can pose to a business, such as brand and reputational damage, litigation, employee turnover, and even criminal behavior. Although people are always considered in BCM plans, they are often treated as a recoverable resource numbers to be counted and skills to be replaced. However, actual human behavior in BCM is rarely thought about in the planning, response, or recovery phases, and where it is mentioned it is usually at the bottom of the priority list.
“Maybe after reading this book, and learning more about the fiscal risk and hidden costs of emotions, organizations will be persuaded to look more closely at this commonly overlooked subject and begin to see the benefit of emotional continuity management. Many organizations take a macho approach to management, and for those companies, the subject matter of this book might be regarded as irrelevant to the bottom line or getting the job done in an emergency. This book effectively debunks that point of view, systematically producing evidence and arguing a compelling case. Dr. Vali connects human emotions directly to cost and increased risk, which should definitely take human emotions much higher up the board agenda.
“Emotional continuity is not a soft subject; rather, it is about emotional readiness and paying attention to the way business and humans interact. In this book, the chapter on Emotional Continuity Management for Disasters is particularly fascinating for BCM professionals, as it talks about how to plan for the emotional consequences of disasters. Clearly, direct comparisons can be drawn between good practice in traditional BCM and good practice in Emotional Business Continuity Management. Thus, emotional continuity management is definitely high on the list of new topics for BCM practitioners to master.

“You will find Dr. Vali’s book to be both an excellent read and a great catalyst for generating new ideas about how these concepts could be incorporated in your mission statement. If you are open-minded about BCM, I suggest you read this book now and start applying its principles well before the next major incident impacts your organization.”

Lyndon Bird FBCI, Technical Director, Business Continuity Institute

About the Author

Vali Hawkins Mitchell, Ph.D., LMHC, holds a Doctorate in Health Education and Masters degree in Applied Psychology. As a Certified Traumatologist, her critical insights on the real human factors of disaster and emergency planning have been shaped by her experiences with major events such as the World Trade Center, Hurricane Katrina, Samoan earthquakes, Indonesian tsunami, and Pacific Northwest Wildfires. She is considered a leading authority in the growing field of Emotional Continuity Management and a highly regarded public speaker and trainer, author, consultant, and educator.

November, 2012. 300 Pages, $39.95



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