Crisis Management Lessons So You Don’t Sink with the Ship [feat. Henry Suryawirawan]

As challenges arise in your career and projects, you’ll want to heed the advice of experts who have navigated rocky waters.

Henry Suryawirawan, host of the acclaimed Tech Lead Journal podcast, is unpacking practical crisis response strategies. Henry has interviewed over 150 tech leaders through his podcast. His insights come from years of experience at the helm. With economic uncertainty looming, many professionals like yourself are facing hurdles. You’ll learn how to stay afloat when storms approach. Henry’s insights offer valuable lessons for individuals working in the tech industry.

The discussion starts by distinguishing between problems and crises. As Henry notes, “A crisis is when the goals you’re going for are not hitting and there’s a good chance this will sink.” Differentiating between a crisis and a mere problem can be challenging. He suggests a litmus test: “The simplest litmus test is if many people shout.” In other words, when urgency and importance reach extreme levels and require immediate attention, it can be classified as a crisis. Additionally, if a situation impacts a large number of people, such as customers or employees, it indicates the presence of a crisis.

When disaster strikes, take a page from firefighters – protect yourself first. As Henry advises, “The first thing is to survive. Put on your safety gear.” Make tough choices to endure, even if unpopular. Focus solely on necessities rather than hopes until the flames subside. Then recover. Henry emphasizes the importance of managing oneself first, as panicking can cloud judgment and hinder effective decision-making. Taking a step back and evaluating the magnitude of the crisis is essential. By understanding the true extent of the situation, one can devise the most appropriate solutions.

Leaders stand out under pressure. Delegate responsibilities clearly to direct teams efficiently.

Henry personally gets bombarded with urgent requests on a daily basis. He advises professionals to differentiate between genuine crises and situations that may appear urgent but are manageable. By re-evaluating expectations, realigning communication, and prioritising tasks, individuals can effectively address urgent matters while avoiding unnecessary stress.

Within a crisis management structure, there are 3 key areas that require attention:

1. Managing the people involved
2. Overseeing the project itself, and
3. Handling external pressures

When it comes to managing people, maintaining open lines of communication and addressing concerns promptly is crucial. Regular meetings with the team can help identify challenges and provide necessary support. As for project management, staying organised, setting realistic timelines, and allocating resources efficiently are essential. External pressures, such as stakeholder expectations or financial constraints, must also be carefully managed to ensure a successful resolution.

Practical Strategies for Crisis Management:

Stay Calm: By maintaining composure, individuals can think clearly and make rational decisions amidst chaos
2. Assess the Situation: Understand the severity of the crisis by distinguishing between urgent and non-urgent matters. Prioritize actions accordingly
3. Communicate Effectively: Transparent and timely communication is essential to keep all stakeholders informed and aligned
4. Seek Resources: Recognize when additional resources or expertise are required and escalate the matter accordingly
5. Problem-Solving Mindset: Approach crises as opportunities for growth and improvement. Learn from the experience and implement necessary changes to prevent similar situations in the future

This candid conversation offers a treasure trove of tactical and emotional support for your own crisis management toolkit. When challenges arise, you’ll be better prepared to take charge, make tough calls and emerge stronger on the other side. Crisis management is an integral part of professional life, particularly in the tech industry. By implementing the strategies discussed in this podcast episode, individuals can navigate crisis situations with confidence and emerge stronger. Remember, crises provide opportunities for personal and professional growth. By staying calm, assessing situations accurately, and effectively managing internal and external pressures, professionals can lead their teams through challenging times and achieve successful outcomes.

You can check their full interview on Wise & Shine, Episode 57 on Spotify, YouTube, or Apple podcast for the candid wisdom shared in and practical advice for handling crises in a professional setting. 

What you can expect to take away from the interview:

1. The discussion on tackling pressing dilemma – what to do if you need more time but it’s not feasible.
2. Drastic measures may prove your only leverage, like threatening resignation.
3. Communication remains key to getting stakeholders on board with realistic expectations.
4. You’ll also get insider tips for navigating political landmines

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Curious if Middle Managers’ challenges and how they can maneuver around it? We also share a guide for Millennial Manager to manage both up and down and their realities.

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