Meredith Parfet On Managing Through Crisis
March 19, 2024
Preparing for professional or organizational crisis isn't about fancy words, the right playbook, or expensive scenario planning. It's about a mindset and an understanding of crisis as a lived experience of suffering that requires a systematic toolkit to bring order to the chaos.

Meredith Parfet is the CEO and Founder of Ravenyard Group, a boutique crisis management firm with expertise in matters that involve legal or regulatory action, scandal, white collar crimes, large insurance litigation, or complex family office disputes. ( Ravenyard is unique in its emphasis on problem solving and strategy and in supporting the wellbeing of leaders in crisis. Meredith is an accomplished VC and PE investor, seasoned entrepreneur, and a passionate philanthropist.

"You can't predict when a crisis will strike, but you can prepare for it."

The best way to respond to crises promptly is with a team of experts. You need a pool of specialists who can be called upon to handle specific aspects of a crisis, ensuring that the response is well-informed and effective. But, even more importantly, individuals and organizations must adopt the right mindset, understand their responses to crises, and implement structured approaches and effective communication strategies to navigate through challenging times successfully.

Redefine Crisis and Personal Experience

Crises are not something people typically want to think about, but they happen often. But there will always be various aspects of life that require responding to crisis: such as the unexpected death of a sibling or professional challenges like dealing with fraud in the workplace. These experiences have led them to delve deeply into understanding crisis and grief. To manage these challenges, you need the right mindset to survive and thrive through crises. This means that you should be planning ahead and acquiring skills to navigate through inevitable crises, whether personal or professional. You need to have a set of questions and coping mechanisms in place to deal with crises effectively when they arise.

"You can't predict when a crisis will strike, but you can prepare for it. Having the right mindset is crucial for surviving and thriving through crises. Instead of viewing crisis as insurmountable obstacles, we can see them as opportunities for growth and learning. By cultivating a resilient mindset and developing a proactive approach to crisis management, we can increase our chances of success even in the face of adversity."

Understand Crisis Coping Styles

One way to do this is by dealing with different crisis coping styles. Individuals tend to have patterned ways of responding to crises and  awareness of these styles can help individuals and teams navigate crises more effectively. This is part because of biological response to stress, and particularly how prolonged exposure to stress can affect cognitive function and decision-making. Understanding this response, especially in professional settings where individuals are expected to perform at their best despite experiencing stress, is imperative.

"We all have patterned ways of responding to crises. Some of us may become overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear, while others may spring into action with a sense of urgency. Awareness of these patterns can help us navigate crises more effectively. By understanding our default coping styles and learning to adapt them to different situations, we can build our resilience and become better equipped to handle whatever challenges come our way."

Bringing Order to Crisis Management

A structured approach to crisis management, involving defining the crisis, prioritizing actions, mapping out communications, and operationalizing the response is key. Teams need clarity and alignment  ensure effective crisis management. The secret is to success is in acknowledging the crisis, being transparent, and offering solutions rather than evading responsibility or providing generic statements.

"A structured approach to crisis management is essential for success. When faced with a crisis, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin. By breaking the process down into manageable steps, we can bring order to chaos and increase our chances of a positive outcome. Defining the crisis, prioritizing actions, and mapping out communications are critical steps in this process. By establishing clear roles and responsibilities and establishing lines of communication, we can ensure that everyone knows what needs to be done and how they can contribute to the response effort."

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