Respect is earned over time and reputations, corporate and individual, are often forged, or broken, during periods of intense stress.

It’s inevitable that Senior Management and Boards will be tested at some point in time.

How a company responds to such challenges and threats will define the corporate longevity of senior managers and directors.

Reputations will suffer if an organisation is not prepared or doesn’t have plans in place to deal with a crisis.

The critical word here is preparation — as a crisis generally develops with alarming speed.

To ensure reputations are best protected, it’s critical that companies have in place crisis management tool kits, including establishing a crisis management team that can swing into action if an unforeseen event takes place that has the potential to disrupt the business.

Speed of execution and teamwork in a crisis situation is critical.

The crisis management team needs to be coached and trained on how to hit the ground running and how to work as a unique team in a difficult environment. They will need to produce and deploy a suite of communication materials for a broad range of stakeholders.

All of those things must be planned and drilled and prepared for in advance.

Boards, particularly non-executive directors, must ensure management is prepared.

Everyone in the crisis management team must know their role and how to execute and work as a team. How well they play their parts will determine the fate of the company’s reputation and give the corporate the best chance of dealing with a challenging event.

Clear, concise communiques will be required for a raft of stakeholders, including staff, investors, regulators, lawmakers and the media. New portals and web pages will need to be established so these stakeholders can access updated and reliable information and statements.

Establishing a crisis management team does take some work – but it will be one of the best things a company can do if a crisis situation develops and action is needed. Reputations won’t just be saved – they’ll be enhanced.