April 29th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

All organizations have both internal and external partnerships – most are not well defined and due to lack formalization, can cause problems. Don’t assume that because you have conversation or communication with another group that they are your ‘partner.’

  • An internal partner might be a department you receive products from or the one you deliver products to.
  • An external partner could be a vendor, customer, next door neighbor or even a friendly competitor.
  • I always recommend you build your relationship with your attorney, banker, CPA and insurance agent into partnerships.
  • Of course, you will have those people who are a sounding board or wise counsel.

The word ‘partner’ is either a noun or a verb, per Merriam Webster.

  • >As a noun: one of two or more people, businesses, etc., that work together or do business together; someone who participates in an activity or game with another person.
  • As a verb: to join or associate with another as partner
  • Noun variation: The American Western variation of the noun is spoken as ‘pardner’.

When you build a relationship into a partnership, it has to be two-sided in dialog, action, respect and benefit – just like a personal relationship/partnership. Don’t assume that because you have conversation or communication with another group that they are your partner. (Yep, I said it before).

Let’s run through an internal partnership example:

  • Do you know the requirements, timelines and supplies for the product you are building?
  • Where or who do you get those from?
  • Do you know the names of the managers or team leaders from those areas?
  • Do you speak with them often, not just when they throw something over the wall?
  • Have you invited them to see your process and team?
  • Have you both shared your concerns about requirements, timelines or supplies?

When you have open communication with your ‘input’ team you are showing respect for their job and pressures; by showing them your process area they will gain insight into your job and pressures. When you are both communicating and understanding your mutual areas, the products will be done better in quality, faster in production and to the satisfaction of the requirements owner.

When you share information with the receiving organization or the ‘output’ team, their job will be easier as well. They will know what’s coming to them, when and in what condition. Active communication with both sides of your work area will help everyone do a better job.

For an external partner, let’s talk about your insurance agent for example:

  • How often do you talk with your agent?
  • Do you have several agents to work with? Do they know each other?
  • Do you review your future strategies or ideas with agent?
  • Has your agent done a walk-through of your facility? Do you have any new equipment or
  • layout for review?
  • Does your agent have a current list of all your equipment (and pictures in their work location)?
  • What other information on your equipment does your agent need?
  • What other information from your company does your agent need?
  • Does the agent have education information for you or employees?
  • Who can submit claims to the agent(s) and what method?

When the agent(s) can see or hear in-depth information, they can better recommend coverage for you and your company. They may have information or posters for your employees on safety or even mini-classes that might reduce your premiums. If they don’t know much, then you can bet/guess/expect that you will be under-insured.

Plan. Prepare. Prevail.

April 20th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

As part of the Colorado Rocky Mountain Chapter of Association of Contingency Planners, we get briefings from various organizations, companies and facilities.

On Friday, April 17th we were invited to the Federal Reserve Branch in Denver, which is actually a branch of the Kansas City Reserve Bank. Part of the briefing consisted of the normal barrage of statistics on the paper money of the United States as it flows in and out of the building and the overall system. It still amazes me that our paper money is pretty tough to last through all the stuff we put it through!

The second part of the briefing is what is of interest to this writing:
The Federal Reserve, FEMA and a couple non-profits have created several documents for employers and employees to complete as a part of ‘financial preparedness’.

Their program is titled “Plan, Prepare, Prevail.”

As part of their research to determine what resources they could provide to an employer or employee, it was discovered that $400.00 is the breakpoint for an employee. If they did not have that amount available for a health issue, new tires, unexpected car repair, etc. – they would be in trouble. If an employee is distracted at work you have problems: safety, work getting done, attitude, etc. If they have to take time off from work to resolve the issue you still have problems back at work due to the absence. Using the Federal Reserve’s education materials or trainers there can be free ‘financial education’ for your employees; also your bank might offer similar services. Per several of our chapter members that are in banking, they know their trainers use the Fed documents for training at schools – it’s your government’s resources – use them and often!

There is also a form for small businesses, if your CPA, insurance agent or banker have not given you something similar – fill it out and give it to key employees who have authority to execute these accounts if needed or save it electronically. If you save it electronically, be sure you have access from any secure location and make sure at least one other person has access.

Both forms are available on the above web site or you can order hardcopies, in English and Spanish and are PDF automated, meaning you can fill them out on-line and save the completed form.

There are blanks for all the basic financial information: bank accounts, insurance policies with contact phone numbers and account numbers. Utilities with account numbers and contact information is something I had not thought of, but getting the old bills with those numbers might not be feasible if the location of those documents is inside a burned or flooded building.

The section that gave us pause in the briefing was the last part of the form – Irreplaceable times to take during evacuation. This is what we never want to really think about or plan for — if I am at work do I race back to my office and grab the PC, phone and purse/wallet, favorite coffee mug or any of the personal stuff around my desk? If I am at home – do I grab the pictures that are in the far corner of the basement, then the empty kennels to use for scared pets or my classic 33’s and the new turntable?

We do need to consider our actions before we have to react! Doing it now gives us choices and plans – all of which can be updated or changed – but not ignored!

“The key deliverables that result from a comprehensive business continuity plan are choices. You get to decide what to do before a disaster instead of afterwards or worse, in the middle of one. It is a fact of life that most things are scarier when you have your back turned to them. Having knowledge gives you the power to act and allows you to be proactive, instead of reactive”

– David Kinlaw, CloudTweaks May 13, 2014

Succession Planning – Part II

April 7th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

Succession Planning – Part II

Succession planning for your staff (leadership or team leaders) is a part of over-all strategy that gets included in the business plan and budget for the year &/or the 3 to 5 year plan (a longer time frame gives you perspective vs. reaction). You might consider this a jig-saw puzzle trying to fit all the pieces together; however it might be more helpful to consider this exercise lining up dominoes – if you move one player out of sequence it will have a cascading effect without immediate replacement of a similar player. You want to prevent disruption in operations, internal morale or external relationships by having a plan or a structure in place and known.
As you go through the process you should include key staff in the discussion including the specific department to be discussed and the department (HR?) that will update (or create) job descriptions and finance that will need to consider the salary and training budgets.
The questions to ask yourself or the leadership team as you build your strategy are:

  • What skills are needed in Position A? Position B? Position C, etc.
    • Is that skills list documented in any job description?
    • Has the skills list been updated in the past year?
    • Has the skills list been validated by person doing the job now?
    • Have the skills list been validated by internal staff?
  • Who has those (or most) of those skills now?
    • Are they a good cultural fit for the leadership team (or team leader)?
    • What additional skills do they bring to the position?
    • Who would fill their current slot?
    • Filling the skills gap is part of your staff development budget & schedule
  • Who can be backup or vacation coverage for Position A?
    • HINT: this is a great time to access a potential candidate with marginal risk to the company or either employee and to do a bit of cross-over or transitional training. It gives the potential candidate an opportunity to shadow the current position holder performing the job to see if it might be of interest or a good fit. There will be time to say ‘no’ at any point during the exercise; again with minimal disruption or risk to the company or the employees.
    • What information does the backup need to know?
    • Where is that information documented?
    • Who has access to the documentation now?
  • Who would like to be in Position A?
    • What are their current skills?
    • Are they a good cultural fit for the leadership team?
    • What additional skills do they bring to the position?
    • Who would fill their current slot?