Start by exploding these three myths:
1. We’re ready to address what might come up
2. The authorities will take care of most of it for us
3. The insurance company will give us protection from loss
It would be great if these three statements were true – and sometimes they are. But often they’re not.
• Unless you deal with fraud on a regular schedule, you’ll find that you and your leaders may be very much unprepared to respond.
• The authorities will do their best to assist you in pursuing wrongdoing – if you cooperate fully with them and you are willing to supply the information they need to proceed. They are busy people just like you. They have limited resources and other priorities – again just like you.
• The insurance policy is a contract with requirements you must meet before any losses covered by the policy are paid. Are you in compliance? Have you ever read the insurance contract?
Once you have counterbalanced any existing myths and flawed beliefs, then do these three things:
There are inherent risks in responding to wrongdoing, misconduct and fraud. Legal, physical, career, reputation, regulatory, human resources and other risks should be managed by professionals with the requisite authority, background, resources, and interest. List the skills and relationships that will be needed when fraud is found. Recruit and prepare your team of experts in advance.
Before fraud is found (right now is a good time!) craft the basics of the message you may need to deliver to employees, customers, the press and others. Write out the bullet points of these messages before they’re needed. Be fully prepared to deliver these messages in an organized confident manner at the appropriate time and place, and by the appropriate authorized spokesperson. But get the basics on paper now when things are calm.
Make sure that everyone in the organization knows who’s authorized (and who isn’t) to investigate, handle formal and informal information requests, and interact with any outside parties. Put this ‘crisis response plan’ in writing.
Correcting myths, preparing the team and messages and putting it all in writing isn’t everything, but it a foundation that will pay off many times over if you take care of it right now.
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”