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Communicate always and all ways!

August 15th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn
Example of not wanting to have the conversation about Continuity or Disaster planning.

These 3 Buddha’s are sitting back, covering their eyes, mouth and ears. Just like an otherwise savvy business person … who does not want to have the critical conversation about Continuity or Disaster planning.

The last two months have been a flurry of webinars with similar themes – you have to communicate during a Crisis to your employees, your customers, vendors, suppliers and local/regional community! The right words and the right media for individual audiences or public/strangers will fill the void with inaccurate misinformation – in other words, info-trash that will ruin your business or your reputation!

The after-event internal reviews have consistently brought up communication omissions or shortfalls to all audiences. The clean-up work due to misinformation or false information may take months to correct.

To summarize the main points of the discussions/webinars (not in any order):

DO’s

  • Define your audiences (internal & external)
  • Define the best method to reach each audience in times of crisis (may be different by audience)
  • Have draft texts ready for use by audience, type and severity of event(s)
  • Respect the gravity/severity of each event
  • Create checklists for each phase of crisis & decide communication actions
  • Create, train & exercise the team doing the Crisis Communicating; create team structure (authority or approval levels) and backups.
  • Make sure Communication team has IT authority to update media formats (add & remove)
  • Have plan for press/media conference room, if appropriate; all else is electronic if power is available.
  • Inform and train the employees on where to receive and send information
  • Communicate with Customers with media they normally use, if possible.
  • Engage with Emergency Response Team for ‘go/no go’ decision; confirm with internal Crisis Management team for severity level to work with.
  • Monitor other media outlets for information or misinformation
  • Post only most current information; remove old/dated information
  • Keep a running total of team time & effort
  • Log any IT issues for immediate and deferred correction – don’t try to fix a minor problem in the ‘heat of moment’.
  • Have a plan for power outage scenario.

Do Not’s

  • Forget the Communication checklist
  • Use one message for every audience; tailor each message for each audience & delivery media
  • Select only one media; use them all!
  • Create new accounts during crisis (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Make the media only one way; give opportunity to send feedback
  • Expect your company is the only one involved; share connections.
  • Expect for power to be available at all times.
  • Forget to keep a list of all messages sent, to what distribution list and what media.

The organizations that hosted these webinars have materials on their web sites for further reference:

FIRESTORM WEBINARS: http://www.firestorm.com/learn/form-download-brief-six-stages-of-crisis-for-communication-planning.html

Agility Recovery: http://www2.agilityrecovery.com/assets/slides/Agility-Social_Media.pdf

Everbridge; http://www.everbridge.com/control-communication-throughout-the-lifecycle-of-a-crisis/

You need a community or several

August 15th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

Business owners need a place to cuss and discuss those items related to their daily or strategic business problems. That place is a ‘community’, whether it’s virtual or with a coffee/lunch group. A great example of ‘community’ is your local Chamber of Commerce.

Communities as described in Wikipedia:

A community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. In human communities, a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness. The word “community” is derived from the Old French comuneté or Latin communitas , a broad term for fellowship or organized society.[1] One broad definition which incorporates all the different forms of community is “a group or network of persons who are connected (objectively) to each other by relatively durable social relations and who mutually define that relationship (subjectively) as important to their social identity and social practice.”[2]

Your local Chamber of Commerce is a ‘community’. The geographical reach of a Chamber is defined by roads or highways or geography like rivers or mountains. You will find members of a Chamber that live in the immediate area and those that live at a distance with a connection to the area. Companies and organizations may have buildings or mobile workers. With the advent of internet technology the range of industries and job functions in the community is unlimited. One of the ways to connect or meet these folks is through the local Chamber.

The initial connections for me are those Chambers that remind me of small towns I lived in growing up and the larger Chambers are for the larger cities where I’ve worked. Community physical size is not the priority — personal connections that build a ‘community’ are the pull!

Introductions during Chamber events have helped my business processes and growth. I know that because of the ‘community connection’ I could call or email those new acquaintances and have a discussion in confidence or for mutual benefit. After a couple of my speaking engagements, I have gotten calls from attendees with questions that would not have been asked in open forum and I was able to help with references or possible solutions.

There was a recent gathering of 6 area Chambers and it was a busy, loud event for several hours. The buzz of conversation with existing and new connections was energizing. The diversity of businesses and business owners/representatives was amazing – I learned so much! The pile of new business cards, names and businesses is still buzzing in my mind. I hope we’ll be able to re-connect and continue the conversations.

IF you are not inclined to join a Chamber of Commerce, you need to build a ‘community’ of your own – whether that is within your industry or geographical area, a business owner needs to be able to discuss and cuss with ‘like-minded’ people. You could get recommendations from your attorney, banker, CPA or insurance agent, vendors, sales reps or even Customers. For example, I am affiliated with Assoc. of Contingency Planners and Project Management International; they have monthly meetings, newsletters, free webinars that provide information and opportunities to converse with ‘like-minded’ people.

Business Continuity Partners of the West is focused on serving small and medium businesses because they are what make our towns and cities unique, colorful, and prosperous in more ways than money. We encourage those businesses to put some time into maintaining those elements of their business that might fail if not protected through good business continuity actions.

Are you prepared?

Vacation Preparedness at Work

July 7th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

Are you ready to leave work behind and relax during your vacation? The best insurance for that peace of mind is to prepare!

Schedule that time away as soon as you can; if the personal arrangements are fixed or flexible get on the company vacation schedule as soon as reasonable to get the schedule you would prefer. You will want to be considerate of others as you expect them to support your time away as you will have to support their vacation time.

  • Some industries or companies have ‘natural’ time that is slow for business and that might be the time your company requires you to take your vacation time – learn what those dates are.
  • here are school schedules to consider as your colleagues may have specific dates they can utilize if taking children on vacation. This is also tricky if a school district has a mix of traditional and year-round schools.

Whether your job is at a desk, in a vehicle, at a workbench or on the phone all day….
Your daily work processes need to be documented and your colleagues are aware of the document, if they are not trained to do your job.

The documentation needs to include:

  • The steps of your job – flow charts or pictures of each step would be nice. How to document that the job is done or who to report ‘job complete’ is essential.
  • Any project dates that your substitute needs to be aware of such as conference calls or completion percentage put in a database.
  • Who your contacts or vendors are that help you get your job done – examples of when or why you would contact them would be helpful.
  • Where you get your supplies or inventory – is there a checkout process, who needs to know you just grabbed the last of the items, how do you verify the supplies are of the best quality & who to advise if they are not best quality?
  • Safety information: first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc. That paper cut or staple hole will bleed all over the place if you don’t get a band aid on it quick!
  • Who your immediate supervisor is and contact information.
  • Who is also trained (or cross-trained) to do your job.

** There is always a debate about leaving your contact information ‘in case’ someone needs to get in touch; that might be a phone call or schedule to check your email. Be sure to know these cultural requirements before you plan your vacation and for your traveling companions to know as well & respect that element of the vacation. For example, being in an electronic dead zone for 5 days might not be helpful if you have a requirement to be ‘in touch’ every 48 hrs. **

When you return, be humble about your time away. Don’t bring in the 3 DVDs of the island time or your grandchildren’s music recitals. One or two pictures in your work area will either be sufficient or give cause for a follow on conversation, if someone is interested.

Then get back to work:

  • find out what went right
  • what did not
  • And what the status is today

One organization I was with had a ‘vacation recap’ coffee session with treats provided by the person doing the report – that usually kept the monologue short and sweet! Then we did a reverse status update for the rested and relaxed colleague to jump right back into the work day.

AND then start planning for the next vacation!