Business continuity programs sink or swim depending on whether they have the support of senior management. In today’s post, we’ll share eight tips to help you bring your bosses on board in support of your BC program and initiatives.
A TOUGH SELL
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in almost thirty years in the business, it’s this: business continuity programs that have the backing of management thrive. Those that don’t wither on the vine.
However, getting the bottom-line oriented people in the C-suite to make the investments required for a good BC program can be a tough sell.
How can you, as a mid-level BC manager, go about winning the support of your senior managers?
You have to help them understand that investing in BC doesn’t work against your having a more successful and profitable company, it contributes to your having one.
The ultimate goal is to create a culture of resilience, where doing BC becomes as routine as brushing your teeth.
It’s easier said than done, I realize.
Believe me, I realize it. I spend half my time going in front of groups of senior managers that are as eager to talk about business continuity as they would be to go to the dentist.
However, there are things you can do to get your senior executives to see the light and support your efforts.
Below are eight approaches that I have found from experience can bring good results.
8 TIPS TO WIN MANAGEMENT’S BACKING FOR YOUR BC PROGRAM
- Put on your teacher hat. Don’t assume your senior managers know even the basics about business continuity. Look for opportunities to teach them. Specifically, try to educate them on what BC is, why it’s important, how it benefits the company, and why it’s worth investing in. Bring up parallels from everyday life to help them understand. (You could liken investing in BC to brushing your teeth, for example, or to buying car insurance. It’s a moderate investment up front that can avoid major pain and expenses down the road.)
- Seek feedback and questions. Try to encourage management to be forthcoming with you. Invite them to express their questions, complaints, and doubts about your BC proposals. Don’t be afraid of their feedback. Look at it as an opportunity. If a manager raises a concern, and you are able to allay their concern convincingly, you might have moved one step closer to winning their trust and securing their support.
- Count them in. Include management in your BC planning and review processes.
- Speak in a language they understand. Frame the benefits of business continuity in a language business people value and understand. Explain how BC protects and benefits the bottom line.
- Ask management to delegate. We often see senior management holding too tightly to the reins of power when it comes to BC. This is to the detriment of the organization. Senior managers often don’t understand BC and are busy with other matters, but they are commonly the bottleneck on an effective BC program and response. Explain to your senior managers the importance of delegating certain specific BC-related authority to the people below them. This empowers the front-line managers to mitigate situations before major disruptions occur. This is to the benefit of everyone involved, including the upper-level managers.
- Provide them with superior service. One of the best things you can do as a BC manager is to start thinking of senior management as your customers. Then dedicate yourself to providing them with superior customer service. This means making things easy for them, anticipating their needs, and looking at things from their point of view.
- Adapt to the culture of the organization. Every organization has its own culture. This culture is usually closely reflected in the values and style of senior management. As a BC person trying to gain support for your program from senior management, you should work with your organization’s culture rather than against it.
- Partner with management to create a “culture of resilience.” This encapsulates everything else in the list. Your ultimate goal is to create a culture of resilience at the organization. In such a culture, everyone is aware of the importance of business continuity. The steps needed to promote resilience are a routine part of life at the organization. This means BIAs and mock disaster exercises and the like are not regarded as interruptions and distractions. They’re routine. If you can get management to work with you to this extent, you don’t need any more tips to help you bring your bosses on board. You’ve done it.
SECURING MANAGEMENT’S SUPPORT
Management support is the single most important factor in determining whether an organization’s BC program will succeed or fail. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand we can wave to obtain this support. However, I have found the approaches outlined above to be helpful both in helping senior leadership grasp the importance of business continuity and in getting them to invest in BC programs and initiatives.
For more information on presenting a business continuity plan to management and other hot topics in business continuity and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting: