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Volume 32, Issue 3

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Tuesday, 22 January 2019 17:33

Know Yourself

Written by  MICHAEL HERRERA

Developing a high-performance BCM program for your organization starts with you. As the BCM leader, you are the person responsible for the fate and direction of your program. The program’s success depends on your ability to strategically and tactically guide your team’s current and future efforts.

One of the most important things you must do in leading a BCM team is to develop an understanding of your personal strengths and weaknesses, and then either improve your weak areas or delegate those tasks to other people. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.

In the early days of my consulting firm, which I founded in 1999 after serving as the vice president in charge of business continuity for the southwest region at Bank of America, I was strategically and tactically involved in every aspect of my organization, from delivering on our core services to setting up our IT to handling finance and accounting. In the beginning, this approach had its benefits. It allowed me to make sure we operated at a high level of performance and integrity, helping MHA earn the reputation for excellence which it enjoys to this day. But as we grew, my reluctance to delegate became a hindrance. I micromanaged every project, even though by this time I had a staff of highly capable people working with me. I was doing tasks that others could have handled better and more efficiently, while spending less time than I should have on the areas that were my core strengths.

Eventually I came to understand that the root problem was that I did not have a sufficiently clear grasp of my skillset and those of my team members, and how these lined up. At first, I didn’t even realize this was something I needed to think about.

Inventory Your Personal and Professional Skillsets

The skills required to manage an enterprise BCM program are many and varied. You must possess the relevant technical knowledge. You must also be able to communicate at all levels of the organization, build relationships with stakeholders, sell your budget needs and risk concerns, eliminate roadblocks, manage people of various skillsets, and lead during a crisis.

Have you ever taken an inventory of your personal and professional skillsets? Have you performed a SWOT analysis—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats—with yourself as the subject? Do you know how your abilities relate to the key requirements needed in a BCM leader?

To be successful as a BCM program head, you must inventory your personal and professional skills and understand your strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to this role. What we typically find is that many BCM managers have good tactical BCM skills but lack the management skills needed to lead their people and guide them to building a responsive and demonstrable recovery capability.

Why is this important? Due to the complexity of today’s BCM programs, knowing how to apply your strengths and weaknesses across your program is critical. The depth and breadth of your personal and professional skillsets will greatly impact the success of your program.

Unfortunately, few BCM leaders truly understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie. In many cases, BCM programs fail due not to a poor methodology or approach but to the lack of good management. It’s vital that you understand what tasks you should handle yourself and what you should assign to the various members of your staff.

As the CEO of a global consulting organization for over 19 years, I have had to inventory my professional and personal skillsets to learn how to capitalize on my strengths and balance out my weaknesses in leading my firm, working with my consultants, and collaborating with the varied organizations we work with daily. Over the years, I learned which areas I needed to improve in (dealing with conflict), as well as those where I should delegate the key tasks to other people (developing plans and working out IT strategy, among others). I also learned to focus on leveraging my strengths (public speaking, meeting with senior management, and building relationships) for the benefit of our team and organization.

Build a Personal Improvement Plan

Once you have completed your personal and professional skillset inventory, take the time to celebrate your new understanding of your personal strengths and weaknesses. In developing these insights, you have taken the first step toward building an exceptional you and a quality BCM program.

After taking stock of your skills, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I using my strengths to their fullest extent?

  • Am I applying my strengths in the right areas?

  • How can I use my strengths to heighten the capability of my BCM program?

  • How are my weaknesses hindering the success of the program?

  • Are there other individuals on my team who can step in and supplement these areas?

  • Can I use outside resources to support me in these areas?

  • What training or mentorship can I use to strengthen my competence in these areas?

Working from your skillset inventory, build a plan of action to capitalize on each strength and address each weakness that you have identified. Spell out what steps you will take over the next 6 to 12 months to take advantage of your new insights.

Takeaways
  • Improving your organization’s BCM program starts with you.

  • Take an inventory of your personal and professional skillsets.

  • Capitalize on your strengths and manage your weaknesses.

 

Herrera Michael optMichael Herrera is the CEO of MHA Consulting, a leading business continuity planning and information technology consulting firm. Herrera is the founder of BCMMetrics, which specializes in business continuity software designed to aid organizations in developing and executing business continuity programs.