To Our Valued Clients and Friends:
Welcome to the seventh in our series on preparing your business to weather unexpected events. Read Parts I – VI here, here, here, here, here, and here. This week, we discuss in more depth how to communicate your plan.
Communicating your plan begins with the plan’s inception. It’s of paramount importance that your team understands they are an integral part of your risk-preparedness plan – right from the start and at every step. Remember that your people are stakeholders in the continuity of your business.
For the purpose of risk-preparedness planning, consider that your team includes not only your business’s employees but key service providers as well (think outsourced IT services, etc.).
- Get your team’s input as to what the Top Three Threats to your business are. While you will ultimately make this determination, you may choose differently after hearing from your team.
- When you have determined these three likeliest business threats, hold a team brainstorming meeting on the best five steps to take to mitigate against each threat. Again, you will make the final decision on which five steps are most essential, but input can be enlightening.
- It’s essential to delegate someone who will assume the leadership of your business in the event you are unable to fulfill this role yourself. If this person is not a member of your team, schedule time for the team to become acquainted with him/her, ask questions and provide input.
- Make sure there is a central application for team communications as a backup. This application should be separate from your server and emails and can be via group text, GroupMe, or other applications. Get your team and yourself in the habit of checking the group message application regularly – and using it.
- Ensure every team member knows what you will be relying on them for, what they can depend on one another for, and what they can count on you or your delegate to handle.
- If one of your top three threats could require evacuation, make sure everyone on your team – including yourself – has an individual plan for this; you should incorporate each of these into the overall plan. A map of each individual’s evacuation route is an excellent inclusion – especially if your team is small enough that you can superimpose everyone’s route onto a single map as well.
- Are you confident that key contact information – for team members, clients, and key service providers is up-to-the-minute accurate? If not, delegate that task and make sure it gets updated and maintained.
- Make sure your team members are communicating with each other as well as with you. In your own communications, make sure your team knows they are listened to and any concerns are heard. This strategy will foster confidence and camaraderie; in an emergency, these are assets worth having.
- Whenever you test your plan(s), hold a preparatory team meeting – clearly communicate what will be happening, and gauge responses to determine whether any steps can be improved before testing. Communicate with your key service providers so that they can participate, just as they would in a real emergency.
- Keep your clients informed when you are testing your plan – make sure they know they will be contacted as if this were an unexpected real-time event.
- After testing, review the plan for newly evident vulnerabilities, any failures in communication, any confusion as to team members’ responsibilities. Schedule a full team meeting to discuss the results, and ask for their input. Revise your plan to address any issues or concerns before your next test.
- Once the plan is revised, hold another meeting to communicate the changes you’ve made to your team.
Communicate to clients and key vendors your new business operation plans once you are settled into your new business model.
I think we’ve all learned during the pandemic, despite the unavoidable isolation we’ve experienced, that teamwork counts, communication is imperative, and – in the end, aren’t we all on the same team?
What’s the best way you’ve found to keep your team fully engaged in your preparedness planning process?
Please click here to email me directly – I’d love to hear your own experiences.
Until next Wednesday –