We hope it never happens to you. But if a crisis situation develops at your co-op, you’ll want to be prepared and the co-op will fare better if the board has some agreements in advance about how to communicate and manage such situations.
We provide some general guidelines for the kinds of situations that could erupt and require board involvement (as well as those that may not require board involvement). We hope this helps you build agreements so your board can better recognize a situation that requires board involvement, as well as know how it will communicate (internally and with all stakeholders) and handle such situations.
Preparing for a Crisis – Marcia Shaw
“Remember that a rush to judgment can cause or spark a crisis rather than calm it. When the board feels that it has to do something fast, it’s often time to slow down…. Emotionally charged, challenging issues are rarely productively resolved in haste”
A Crisis Communications Plan – Martha Whitman
“In a crisis (real or perceived), the board’s duty extends beyond safeguarding the co-op to ensuring communication is happening at all levels. Communication during crisis events should maintain, if not enhance, transparency.”
Finding the Graceful Exit – Philip Buri
“Ending conflict involves allowing the participants to exit gracefully. What does this look like? It may be as simple as allowing someone to have the last word, even if it does not make a difference. Or allowing someone to leave with his or her dignity intact. A graceful exit does not declare a winner or loser but instead declares resolution of the conflict, with all sides gaining something.” Here are three important steps to this graceful resolution.
How It All Played Out: A Crisis Case Study – Martha Whitman
Here’s the story of a particular event at La Montanita Co-op that felt like a crisis and had the potential of becoming a divisive force within our co-op. Martha reflects on how the board handled the situation, including what they did right and what they’d do differently in the future.
Study Guide – Make Sure You’re Ready – by Cindy Owings
This issue’s study guide offers background readings on two different types of challenging situations faced recently by co-ops, as well as some questions for board discussion. We hope these questions can help your board build agreement to be better prepared for these kinds of situations.
We hope you find this issue useful and, as always, would love to hear how you adapt or use it to your co-op. Send your suggestions, comments, experiences, reactions, and/or new scenarios and resources that you develop, to firstname.lastname@example.org.