5 Ways Manufacturing Leaders Respond During a Crisis


Everyone that’s been in manufacturing long enough knows that unexpected circumstances can, and do, happen at a moment’s notice. Failing to properly respond to a crisis can significantly affect a business.

Manufacturers must take a proactive approach on how they respond. Everyone involved is looking at the leadership team for direction. When leaders drop the ball when handling a crisis, they risk losing credibility with employees, driving costs up, interrupting the business, and even losing customers.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind when responding to a crisis:

  1. Assemble a team – A crisis is best handled when a team puts their minds together to evaluate the impact the crisis will have on the business. Everyone will look at things from their own perspective. This will allow for the best plan to be put forth. The team should meet periodically, remembering that they have the task of guiding the business through the crisis. They will be making decisions, communicating them, and ensuring that the business can withstand the effects of the crisis.
  2. Have a Plan – Quickly after you learn of the crisis, it is very important to assess the magnitude of the crisis, the risks it poses for the business, and how you should respond. Consider creating a best- and worst-case scenario plan. Focus on addressing issues affecting operating costs, your customers, and your supply base. Adapt, you may need to consider making small changes to your business model and how the business will operate day-to-day. Stay strategic with your plan and make sure you always understand the big picture. Don’t forget to build a communication and recovery plan as well.
  3. Keep employees informed – During a crisis, it is critical that leaders communicate with their workforce. If communication breaks down, anxiety rises, and people begin to lose faith in their leaders. Share what the plan is, what they can do to help, and what message should be shared with outside parties.
  4. Engage your team – Avoid having your team develop anxiety over the crisis. Once you communicate the plan, make sure they feel included and part of the solution. After all, you are all in this together and they should feel that way. Encourage your team to offer suggestions, and take ownership of their plan; furthermore, delegate tasks and decisions. If business slows down, engage them in making improvements to their work processes, or maybe completing projects they had postponed and that they have been wanting to work on.
  5. Empathize with everyone’s situation – Each team member will have their own challenges and will respond differently; some will be sad, angry, distracted, etc. Ensure they know you understand this. Make every effort to support your employees however you can. This could be by being flexible with time off, schedules, or any specific requests they make. Avoid layoffs, if possible, by sharing the load on cutting costs through hour reductions or unpaid time off. If layoffs are inevitable, provide support on their transition.

It is during times of crisis that we know who really is there for us. Manufacturing leaders that build a culture recognize this and show support for their business. Help your team remember the good things that happen during a crisis.

Are you dealing with a crisis in your manufacturing organization? Schedule a call to discuss your specific situation.

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