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Encouraging difficult people to buy into business continuity

When it comes to achieving organizational resilience, you think of embedding business continuity and setting out a framework to achieve this. But what about key people who you need on side to achieve this but who are not bought into the benefits of business continuity? This article by Robert Willott addresses the obstacles you could face and how to overcome them. 

Ensure top management buy in

Let’s first look at top management - it is essential that you get top management buy in, to help integrate and develop a business continuity framework. Without this, embedding business continuity into the organization will prove difficult, if not impossible, and will not help you in your bid to win people around. Hold a meeting with top level management to set out your business continuity objectives and benefits, highlighting the importance of having a resilient risk framework which includes business continuity. To further strengthen this, look at developing objectives for business continuity champions or key stakeholders with the input of senior management. This will result in business continuity becoming a focal point within people’s roles and not buried behind other operational priorities.

Look at any existing frameworks that are embedded within the business, for example risk management, and request that business continuity is added as a risk to corporate and departmental risk registers.

Look at developing a business continuity report or slide to include into any existing exec reports so you can share the progress monthly. I would also suggest recommending that business continuity becomes a reoccurring agenda item in departmental team meetings.

My final point within this section is to highlight the importance of regular testing of plans as a way of getting key stakeholders engaged.

Understand concerns and issues

Firstly, try to understand exactly why people are being difficult or showing negativity towards business continuity and show empathy towards them. It may be that they do not fully understand the concept and just see it as an additional job rather than it being something to help them. Look at setting up a user group that has a formal governance link to a business continuity Steering Committee or equivalent. This way you can report any issues that you may have directly to senior management.

Some people also have the mindset of ‘it won’t happen to me’, so it is important to be able to share examples of business continuity incidents and stress to them that putting effective plans in place now will save them a lot of stress and time if they are involved in a future incident.

Flexible approach

When developing business continuity, it is essential to develop a framework and project plan to show senior management on how you will approach the process. Having said this, your approach must be flexible, and I would always recommend building some robust contingency into your timelines. This will help you in your approach with difficult people who may feel they just do not have the time to spend developing their plans. Also, be prepared to go above and beyond your duties or ideas of how to approach business continuity to help people as much as possible. Remember getting people onside, especially key stakeholders, is an essential component to having an effective and robust framework.

Finally, look at using intelligent software to help embed business continuity and to develop robust and resilient plans. A lot of stakeholders who see business continuity negatively is because it has been made overcomplicated, so they do not fully understand it.

Ongoing support and guidance

Following on from having a flexible approach it really is essential to offer ongoing support to all key stakeholders. Remember that people will work differently and require different levels of guidance and approaches. Find out what works for individuals. This is especially true to get difficult people on-side.

During my time doing business continuity I have developed bespoke guidance documents in addition to standard documents to fully meet individual needs. Investing time in your difficult people and providing the necessary supporting documentation will result in a more collaborative relationship, this will provide positive longer-term benefits for both parties.

Show your appreciation

Finally, and importantly, where possible always show your appreciation to key stakeholders when they have helped develop plans or have done any business continuity work. Look at sharing success stories in reports to senior management. If people receive praise from their senior managers, this will go a long way in getting difficult people onside.

The author

Robert Willott is a Business Continuity Specialist with ClearView Continuity. ClearView’s multi-award winning business continuity software is available globally. 

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Business continuity can be defined as 'the processes, procedures, decisions and activities to ensure that an organization can continue to function through an operational interruption'. Read more about the basics of business continuity here.

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