What has Leadership to do with Business Continuity?
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) only helps if it is tested and validated several times. Sounds familiar? Everybody emphasizes the importance of exercising the BCP. Staff members, who have a role to play when a crisis hits, must have learned how to appropriately respond to continue the organization’s delivery of services or products. I fully agree. The more opportunities staff members have to practice how to use alternate locations, equipment, and systems, how to replace staff members who are not available, the better. This means, we all assume that staff members are coming in to the office/location or make themselves available and remotely assume their crisis responsibilities.
Are you sure your staff members will go the extra mile and help you and your company through any kind of crisis? Yes? Because everybody likes to work in your organization? Do they get acknowledged for their expertise and experience, for their contributions to the wellbeing of your company? Are you open to listen to their ideas for improvements, because you are aware that they know more about their specific part of your business than you do? Do you provide them with opportunities to grow? Do you challenge them professionally and celebrate their successes? Do you allow them to make mistakes, when they try out new ways of doing their jobs? Do you have confidence in their judgment? Do you trust them that they have the good of the company in their minds? And do you show them this trust?
What about teamwork? Do you and your management team lead in a way that your staff members have become a team? Does everybody work hand in hand? Can they rely on each other, on their managers, and on you?
If the above more or less describes the culture of your company you are already well prepared for a crisis. Your staff members, very probably, will make extra efforts to help you and your organization to get through a crisis. Very often they already know how to do that, because they experienced outages of machines and systems, they covered for the unexpectedly ill colleague during vacation periods when staffing was scarce anyway or they had to work remotely, because a situation didn’t allow them to get to work.
All this builds the base of an effective Business Continuity Program. The BC Program will just make it easier for everybody, because you discussed and agreed on a variety of continuity strategies. You even tried them out, realized in a simulation – and not in a crisis - that Klara’s access to the payroll application had not yet been granted, that Jonathan’s ID had not yet been upgraded to allow him get to work during a city-wide lockdown, and that there were gaps in the coordination of the different departments’ responses to the crisis, etc.
So if you feel bad because you and your staff don’t have time to develop a business continuity program work on your organizational culture. Show your staff that you appreciate their contributions, their knowledge and know-how. Develop a team spirit, provide an environment that strengthens collaboration, not only in units but especially between units and departments. Such a culture is beneficial for your company not only as the foundation of an effective BC program but under any circumstances.