Organizational engagement is one of the most persistent challenges faced by business continuity (BC) managers. A culture that includes a deep commitment to BC at all levels in the organization can significantly enhance the effectiveness of the BC program overall. But how can BC managers spread their influence across a vast base of employees? Perhaps they can borrow a time-tested technique used by their colleagues in Compliance.

Corporate compliance officers and business continuity managers face similar challenges related to organizational engagement. For many years, corporate compliance officers have recognized that tone from the top is critical to helping all employees recognize the importance of compliance and ethics. They also recognize the importance of tone from the middle as necessary to instilling individual engagement in an action-oriented culture. This is the Compliance equivalent of “think globally, act locally.” Perhaps these techniques can also be leveraged by BC Managers to improve organizational engagement.

The key to this approach is commitment through empowerment of your mid-level managers. With buy-in, commitment and accountability of mid-level managers, you can build trust and reinforce engagement deep into the organization. These mid-level managers can help create a business continuity culture—one where all employees are engaged to continually analyze risks, outline response plans and tactics, create safeguards, and empower everyone to prepare for, mitigate and respond to corporate disruptions.

“Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers.” – Gallop’s “State of the American Manager” Report

The Role of the Mid-Level Manager for BC Success

Mid-level managers are sometimes overlooked as a key to BC success and adoption of corporate continuity culture. Because of the nature of their positions, these leaders are critical in building employee trust, affecting team morale, seeing possible threats before they cause critical damage, and are on the front lines of your business operations daily. These managers are the “tone from the middle” of all your workforce operations.

7 Reasons Mid-Level Managers are Valuable Influencers for Continuity Culture

  1. Your mid-level managers know the pulse of your company and understand the ever-changing state of employee morale. If employees don’t believe a crisis can occur or think they don’t need to spend time preparing to respond, your best laid plans are unlikely to succeed if and when needed. Mid-level managers are vital to helping all employees appreciate potential threats and consequences of crises as well as the importance of participation in planning and exercises. If mid-level managers don’t convey the importance of planning and preparation, the tone from the top can be rendered ineffective, creating significant business continuity risks that may remain masked until a real crisis occurs.  

  2. Mid-level managers help bridge relationships between employees and the company. By the very nature of their roles, managers speak the language of their employees. Does your BC Plan actually resemble what your employees hear daily? Does it use terms they understand in their regular job responsibilities? Because they are in regular contact with their teams, mid-level managers can bridge the gap between corporate jargon and terms team members use and can apply to their work functions on a granular level.

  3. Mid-level managers already routinely get feedback about work issues and processes. They have access to information that may never make it to senior-level executives. These managers play an important role in gaining valuable insight in what does and doesn’t work in your BC model. Because their employees are often those directly affected by disruptions, they can gather feedback about what works, what doesn’t, and what they have concerns about. These managers are then a conduit of feedback to the BC manager who can facilitate company-wide BC adjustments as needed.

  4. Mid-level managers possess necessary skills to work through disruptions—big and small. Have you ever had a day at work where everything went right? Where everything worked properly? Where every employee showed up and did exactly what they should? Probably not. Mid-level managers are accustomed to dealing with workflow disruptions because they already manage them on a smaller basis every day.

  5. Mid-level managers are in the weeds so they can see potential problems before disruption occurs. If you’ve ever managed a team or project, you know that even the best teams need support from leadership. Because of this, mid-level managers are often immersed in their team’s essential work functions. With this routine knowledge and insight, mid-level managers are a great source of information. They can see potential problems, mitigate where they can, and then alert others to larger issues before they become catastrophic disruptions.

  6. If your mid-level managers don’t buy in to your plan, your plan won’t be successful. If your managers see your BC processes—the risk assessments, evaluations, mitigation processes, drills, and planning—as disruptions to the day-to-day work they already have to do, they’re not likely to champion your cause. Executive-level buy-in is already a challenge your BC planners are working to overcome, but don’t miss the impact of mid-level managers for total company success. Make sure your managers know what your BC plans are, why they’re important, and how their teams are key to keeping the company operational—or recovering quickly—during crisis situations. Mid-level managers should see the time and effort invested in BC as a benefit that helps them achieve their objectives rather than overhead that impedes their progress. If your managers feel part of the plan, they’re likely to carry that enthusiasm on to their teams.

  7. Likewise, mid-level managers can help employees understand how the work they do fuels the company’s larger BC plan. Mid-level managers can help break down silos and create a culture of accountability and resilience. According to the Gallup report, great managers will motivate their employees to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision.

While most BC programs are generally overseen with a top-down mentality—where executives check required boxes about plans, policies, and procedures—meet your company in the middle with your tone-from-the-middle managers who can help build employee trust and reinforce engagement. With their support, employee buy-in will help build a stronger and more resilient organization. 

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1. https://www.gallup.com/services/182138/state-american-manager.aspx?utm_source=gbj&utm_medium=copy&utm_campaign=20150421-gbj

Topics: Business Continuity

Mike Jennings, VP of Advisory Services

Written by Mike Jennings, VP of Advisory Services

Mike leads the Assurance Advisory Services team. During his more than 26 years of business continuity management, disaster recovery and enterprise risk management experience, he has mentored clients and helped them solve their program needs. Mike has worked extensively with clients throughout the world on their BCM programs, including their underlying incident management and crisis management programs.

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