Unfortunate events or occurrences affect the profitability and performance of organizations (Crandall, Parnell, & Spillan, 2013). Stakeholders expect their respective companies to have crisis management plans to tackle such events whenever they occur. A crisis that is not properly managed draws negative ideas or perceptions from different stakeholders such as community members, government officials, employees, suppliers, and customers (Andrulis, Siddiqui, & Gantner, 2007). That being the case, the first initiative towards dealing with a crisis is implementing a powerful plan to mitigate it. Organizational theorists support the use of crisis plans and interdisciplinary teams in an institution. There should also be a leader to champion the team whenever there is a crisis. The team is expected to use the best resources and skills to address and respond to the targeted crisis.
Analysis of Ethical, Legal, and Multicultural Barriers in Crisis Management
Numerous barriers have the potential to affect or influence the crisis management strategy implemented in an organization. Most of the challenges are usually ethical, multicultural, or legal. The ethical issues relevant throughout the crisis management period can be complex. This is the case because crisis management begins when powerful initiatives to prevent specific events are implemented. The “ethical environment of an organization is an indicator of the potential future of a crisis”(Crandall et al., 2013, p. 200). The leader and chief executive officer (CEOs) in an organization will dictate the nature of the ethical environment. Companies that do not question these leaders create an ethical barrier capable of undermining the crisis prevention strategy. Some companies have inadequate (or lack of) safety policies or measures to tackle a wide range of ethical problems. This gap can be treated as a major barrier to crisis management. The economic goal or motive of the top leaders is closely linked to unethical behaviors. More often than not, some firms and their employees engage in specific behaviors that are questionable (Collins & Pieterse, 2007). Although such behaviors might not be illegal, they eventually result in numerous ethical questions. For example, Nestle’s attempt to market unbeneficial baby formula in the 1970s was an ethical challenge.
The crisis management initiative can fail when a given company engages in unlawful practices. It is agreeable that failure to deal with such legal concerns can eventually result in a major crisis and eventually affect the company’s image. For instance, every industry is guided by several regulations and laws (Andrulis et al., 2007). Companies that ignore such laws have increased the chances of encountering numerous legal crises. The government presents various laws to ensure every company’s operations are by the law. Such frameworks are implemented to safeguard the rights of different stakeholders, such as customers and employees. Some laws require companies to put in place safety measures to prevent accidents and injuries. The leaders in an organization might decide to “engage in unlawful practices in an attempt to overstate profits” (Crandall et al., 2013, p. 201). Companies that are guilty of a legal lapse will be caught when a crisis occurs. This is the case because the absence of stringent measures to promote safety will be a legal concern. Companies that fail to consider the legal aspects will find it hard to implement their crisis response plans adequately. A proper understanding of these legal issues will ensure appropriate crisis management plans are put in place.
Organizations and institutions bring together many people from diverse cultural, religious, regional, and ethnic backgrounds. Despite such differences, crises will affect all the people in the institution. The occurrence of a crisis in an organization will be interpreted differently by these multicultural groups. This means that the response to such a crisis might not be implemented successfully due to such differences (Collins & Pieterse, 2007). Some individuals might perceive a specific event to be traumatic (Collins & Pieterse, 2007). These individuals from diverse backgrounds will interpret the crisis differently. Such complications can make it impossible for the crisis management team to implement powerful strategies that can address the diverse expectations of the targeted stakeholders. The decision-making process might also be affected by this multicultural challenge. A proper understanding of these multicultural barriers can, therefore, help organizations respond to specific crises effectively.
Overcoming Ethical, Multicultural, and Legal Barriers
Counselors possess numerous dexterities that make it easier for them to address various crises in an institution or community. Ethical problems arise from how various issues are addressed in an institution or community. As mentioned earlier, leaders and employees can engage in ethical behaviors to achieve their hidden goals. A counselor must present powerful insights that can deal with the ethical challenges affecting the effectiveness of the crisis management plan. To begin with, counselors must uphold the four ethical principles. These principles include justice, nonmaleficence, respect, and beneficence (Consoli, Kim, & Meyer, 2008). The principles can guide counselors to support and respect the choices made by others. They can also focus on the best approaches to distribute benefits equally and prevent any form of harm. They will work hard to support the welfare of every targeted person. By so doing, the counselors will overcome the unique ethical issues that might be encountered throughout the crisis response process (Sementelli, 2007). Additionally, the counselors will monitor the performance and ethical behaviors of different stakeholders. This knowledge will ensure the right initiatives are put in place to prevent ethical concerns that might arise.
Multicultural barriers are tricky to deal with because they are hard to predict. However, crises affect every person in a specific organization. That being the case, counselors can embrace the power of cultural competence whenever dealing with various crises. They should also consider the importance of the above four principles. The first initiative is identifying and understanding the diverse needs of different persons. The counselor should bring together all the involved stakeholders and communicate effectively whenever dealing with a given crisis. The professional should identify the right resources in the community or organization to meet the diverse needs of the involved persons (Consoli et al., 2008). Each of the affected persons can be supported using an individualized approach or plan. A powerful plan focusing on the best solutions to address the existing cultural problems is necessary. Every involved person should be respected, guided, and treated equally. The counselor should distribute burdens, duties, and responsibilities fairly throughout the crisis management process (Sementelli, 2007). Challenges arising throughout the crisis intervention process should also be addressed professionally. Continuous training and effective communication can make it easier for counselors to overcome most of these multicultural barriers. The involvement of different stakeholders and leaders from different backgrounds will support the crisis intervention strategy.
Legal obstacles affect the effectiveness of crisis management initiatives. Counselors should be aware of the unique legal requirements that must be fulfilled by different stakeholders. During the crisis response process, such counselors should acknowledge legal breaches and identify the most appropriate strategies to deal with them. For example, they can identify new strategies to ensure the targeted institution’s act by the law. Sementelli (2007) believes strongly that a proper crisis management strategy starts with prevention. The involved leaders should be aware of the diverse needs of different stakeholders. This knowledge will make it easier for them to be involved throughout the process and make admirable decisions. The counselor can consider the benefits of “enthusiasm for the crisis management process and training” (Crandall et al., 2013, p. 205). The individual can also work closely with organizational management to ensure legal decisions are made in the future. Counselors can guide different stakeholders to identify the major legal issues surrounding the targeted crisis. This strategy will make it easier for the team to focus on legal concerns and address them effectively. These initiatives can play a positive role in dealing with the legal obstacles encountered when managing crises. The ultimate goal is to manage the targeted crisis and normalize the operations in the institution. Counselors should be ready to engage in lifelong learning and acquire new competencies to become competent crisis managers.
Andrulis, D., Siddiqui, J., & Gantner, L. (2007). Preparing racially and ethnically diverse communities for public health emergencies. Health Affairs, 26(5), 1269-1279.
Collins, M., & Pieterse, L. (2007). Critical incident analysis based training: An approach for developing racial/cultural awareness. Journal of Counseling & Development, 85(1), 14-23.
Consoli, A., Kim, K., & Meyer, M. (2008). Counselors’ values profile: Implications for counseling ethnic minority clients. Counseling and Values, 52(3), 181-197.
Crandall, W., Parnell, J., & Spillan, J. (2013). Crisis management: Leading in the new strategy landscape. New York, NY: Sage.
Sementelli, A. (2007). Toward a taxonomy of disaster and crisis theories. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 29(4), 497-512.