Every bad news story presents all business owners and company executives with an opportunity to do a bit of soul searching to ensure that similar mistakes do not crop up on their watch. In a moment I will provide “4 Key Steps to Avoiding Reputational Damage” that all smart owners and executives should have in place.
This week saw the news that Newcastle City Council has taken over the management of the security arrangements from G4S at St James’s Park literally days ahead of the Olympic Football competition. Elsewhere, thousands of troops are now in position to fill the positions that G4S had previously promised.
Until recently G4S was hailed as a monumental success story with contracts being issued to run Police and Prison/Justice responsibilities and in addition G4S have bid for large contracts to deliver the government flagship Work Program.
It is clear that LOCOG had some resilience in the form of a contingency that deployed our Armed Forces however, the supplier on the other hand; G4S do not appear to have had any decent management controls in place to either check fulfilment progress or a Plan B that could be activated in enough time. Some may say gross arrogance from a company that has grown too big.
So what steps should a company have in place to mitigate against such a scenario?
1. When outsourcing a key activity that is critical to the success of your operation it is best practice to select more than one supplier. In this case G4S argued that the pool of available resources to select from was limited but other suppliers may have had better ideas. This shows that a detailed interrogation of how the supplier intends to go about providing your product or service is necessary.
2. It should have been a recognised key risk that non-fulfilment would result in a breach of contract and damage to the games delivery and the company reputation. It is imperative that tight key performance indicators are within a monthly contract management review. In this case LOCOG should have been in charge of this, one would have expected that good learning could be sourced from Australia if not the more recent Chinese Olympics to assist LOCOG in this area.
3. A good effective set of desktop exercises could have been run based upon various scenarios with G4S executives. It is very easy to focus the organisation on what gaps are present allowing the organisation to set about planning to address the identified gaps.
4. Media training is a must for your chosen company representative in a crisis. Normally, the CEO should have one member of the board who is comfortable in this area and professionally trained supported by a Press Officer or contracted PR specialist. However, the recent rise to prominence in the UK of the Parliament Select Committee has demanded the CEO be present but for normal daily media updates and press conferences a board member is sufficient. This allows some wriggle room in case the crisis deepens and allows the CEO to step forward and maintain confidence.