Whether you’re helping your organization develop a formal business continuity (BC) program for the first time or looking to improve existing BC processes, you’re likely to encounter a common roadblock: getting buy-in from leadership and peers.
Colleagues may be hesitant to contribute or participate in the BC planning process, viewing the commitment as just another demand on their already busy schedule. However, trying to move forward without coordination with senior management and other core teams can quickly backfire.
To set up their business continuity program for success, BC professionals need advocates within their organization. Let’s look at a few tactics to pave the way for recruiting supporters and encouraging collaboration.
Gauge the general attitude toward business continuity at your organization. Next time you need to conduct interviews or an exercise, pay attention to what’s being said in casual conversation. Do people complain about contributing? Do they view BC as a worthwhile and proactive step in protecting your organization, or as an unwelcome obligation that takes time away from their normal responsibilities? Try to get a sampling of opinions from various departments and job functions.
→ Act on It: Analyze Your Program’s Strengths & Weaknesses
Take an objective look at your current status of your business continuity program and processes. Document some of the strengths and weaknesses — try to come up with at least three of each. Consider the opinions and attitudes you’ve observed and how they tie into your assessment: Are there valid concerns or areas for improvement you need to address?
Who will be inclined to support the program? Who’s likely to see it as a burden? Identifying the individuals and groups you can count on as advocates — versus those who you’ll need to focus on winning over — can help you strategize and fine-tune your plan for “marketing” your program internally.
In thinking this through, put yourself in their shoes: Who would share the consequences if your plans or program improvements fall through or fail to meet objectives? Who would benefit from having a BC program in place? Are there people who would prefer to be in charge of the program implementation themselves, or who otherwise have a vested interest?
Also consider the status (or lack thereof) of your organization’s continuity program when you were hired — What changed, how does your role and its purpose fit within the organizational hierarchy, and how might that affect people’s views of your efforts now?
→ Act on It: Make a List
Divide your peers, leadership team, and other stakeholders into a list with two columns. On one side, group people who would experience the same outcome as you would if your efforts are successful. These are the people who will benefit from the BC changes you intend to make, or who would share in the repercussions if you fail — in other words, your most likely advocates.
On the other side, list people who would experience the opposite outcome as you would — those who have something to gain from your efforts not coming to fruition. These individuals are more likely to be critical toward implementing a BC program.
Looking at internal buy-in from an outcome-oriented approach can help provide a realistic perspective of what you’re up against and who may help (or hinder) your efforts.
Once you have a better understanding of the prevailing attitudes toward business continuity and who is and isn’t an advocate, the best way to convince colleagues who are skeptical is to show how your program benefits them specifically.
How will a BC program help their department or team? Seek to understand why these people might be critical of your efforts and what their motivations are. How can you use that knowledge to win their support?
→ Act on It: Identify Your Target Audience & Advantages
Make a detailed breakdown of the primary users, participants, and beneficiaries of your business continuity program. Why should BC matter to those individuals or groups? What benefits or advantages could they gain from buying in?
One helpful way to structure this exercise is by department or role. Try to anticipate the concerns that senior management, sales, IT, human resources, or other groups might have and prepare talking points that emphasize what they have to gain from your program. Those benefits might include access to data collected as part of the BC planning process, the ability to give customers peace of mind that they’ll have continuous access to your products or services, or assurance that your organization is fulfilling regulatory requirements.
Download our free workbook for even more guidance and action items for gaining internal buy-in for your business continuity program:Get Your Workbook