No Respect: The Occasionally Frustrating Truth About Life as a BCM Professional

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Whether you’re an independent consultant or work on staff, life as a BCM professional can sometimes make you feel like Rodney Dangerfield: you get no respect from senior management. In today’s post, I’ll share some personal observations about this state of affairs as well as some tips on how to respond to it productively.

Whether you work as an independent business continuity, IT/disaster recovery, and crisis management consultant as I do, or you’re an on-staff professional in these fields as most of the readers of this blog are, the fact is, you and your work are seldom a top priority for top management.

Of course, I don’t have to tell you that. You know it from experience.

Senior management wants to make and sell things, and BCM only costs and protects, which isn’t nearly as exciting, from their point of view.

This is on my mind due to some recent experiences that have made my normally rewarding job of traveling the country talking about business continuity just a little bit less rewarding than usual.

A DISTURBING NEW TREND

In the past year or so, I’ve noticed that, if anything, things are getting worse.

Which is bizarre when you consider that in that same period, the signs of growing global instability have been getting more and more obvious.

This is true whether you’re talking about cyber threats or the political situation, climate change or global health, as in the case of the current coronavirus outbreak, which has brought economic life in China to a standstill, harming even so powerful a company as Apple.

At MHA Consulting and BCMMETRICS, our active client base spans over 15 industries and extends around the globe. As a consultant, I am constantly in front of senior management for companies across industry verticals that vary widely in size, complexity, and need for business continuity.

Over the past 12 months, it has become increasingly apparent that senior management is not engaged when it comes to dealing with business continuity and its application at their companies.

SIGNS OF INDIFFERENCE

Senior management’s indifference is commonly shown by behavior such as the following:

  • Their lack of attention during discussions about their organization’s BCM status and needs.
  • They display a lack of basic knowledge of BC and any interest in rectifying their ignorance.
  • Their ignorance of what their company asked for in its proposals and/or statements of work for BC services.
  • They have a distinct lack of knowledge of how they want BC applied to the organization.
  • They have a tendency to be late, cancel, or not show up for long-scheduled meetings to discuss the BC situation at their organizations.
  • Their consistent failure to match their positive words with concrete action.
  • This culminates in a failure to follow through, follow up, and get back to you as promised.

These attitudes and behaviors negatively impact how BCM is understood, funded, and implemented at their organizations.

THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

I myself have experienced some interesting things in my life as a BCM professional in this regard over the past twelve months, including:

  • Senior management inviting me in to present, then spending the whole meeting on their PCs, tablets, or cell phones. When this happens, I figure I’ll be lucky if they listen to 60 percent of what I’m saying.
  • Management, even in today’s threat-ridden world, having little idea of the basics of business continuity and why it is important to their company.
  • Senior managers who were involved in writing the Request for Proposal (RFP) for BC services but don’t really know what they are asking for and what it means to their company.
  • Meetings that start significantly late, leaving me without enough time to get my point across and get through my data and information.
  • Companies that agree to complete certain action items, send you information or let you know if you won the engagement or not who don’t do any of those things.

You can see why I mentioned Rodney Dangerfield: sometimes a BC consultant gets no respect, and I know it’s the same with those of you who are in the trenches as on-staff BC professionals.

LIFE AS BCM PROFESSIONALS: MAKING OURSELVES HEARD

Don’t forget, however: Rodney Dangerfield turned his no-respect act into a successful Hollywood career in movies like Caddyshack and Easy Money.

Those of us who make our living helping protect companies from disasters, whether as consultants or on-staff employees, also have options when it comes to making ourselves heard and saving our clients or employers from themselves.

Here are a few things we at MHA and BCMMETRICS do in our lives as BCM professionals—and which you also might consider trying—as a way of fighting back against the growing trend of management inattention:

  • If it becomes clear management isn’t listening, we ask if there is a better time to discuss the topic or if they need to step away for a short break to address urgent business issues.
  • We make sure our presentations are short and to the point.
  • A BC professional explains what the BCM lifecycle is and isn’t in every session.
  • We avoid the use of acronyms and jargon when speaking to management.
  • BC professionals define what we are doing and how it fits into the business continuity lifecycle.
  • As a hedge against tardiness, we identify the critical parts of our presentation ahead of time. If our meetings are cut short, we skip everything but those sections, providing backup information if asked.
  • We prepare ourselves to discuss how business continuity can be applied to their organization based on its industry, culture, size, and so on.
  • After a presentation, we follow up regularly to see where things stand and if any additional information needs to change hands.
  • We send a final follow up message stating we will table the issue until we hear from them.

FROM NO RESPECT TO NO SURRENDER

Here are a few additional tips for dealing with the fact that BC professionals—whether they are independent consultants or on-staff employees—sometimes get “no respect.”

  • Don’t take it personally.
  • Care about your work but preserve your detachment.
  • Embrace the point of view, “It’s not me, it’s them,” because it probably is.
  • Read all the news stories about company disasters, cyberattacks, PR meltdowns, and supply chain catastrophes. Let these stories assure you that you are not imagining things. Disasters harm unprepared organizations all the time.
  • Share the most relevant articles with your managers.
  • Master the explanation of how spending on BC brings a significant return on investment.
  • Think of yourself as a dedicated high school teacher. Your more rambunctious students might see no further than the weekend or graduation. You know there is a world waiting for them after that, and that sometimes it can be demanding and unforgiving.

As a BC professional, your work is too important to your stakeholders for you to ever surrender in your fight to take the necessary steps to increase your organization’s resilience.

FURTHER READING

For more information on life as a BCM professional, managing senior management, and other hot topics in BC and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting:

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