Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity: Employee Involvement

Recently, I was reading the latest Disaster Recovery Journal (DRJ) magazine and as usual, something caught my eye as I was flipping through the pages.  It was an article on the Human Factor of Commercial Hurricane Readiness.  The author begins the article with a great Chinese Proverb: Tell me and I’ll forget, Show me and I may remember, Involve me and I’ll Understand.  I tend to believe that this proverb holds true for everyone in just about every discipline you can think of.

There was another quote later in the article that also captured my attention; “Employees want to know, ‘What do you expect of me?’”  I don’t disagree with this one bit though I couldn’t help think that it’s only half of the equation.  It is certainly a good idea to let employees understand what they are required to do – and not do – during times of crisis or disaster.  The more then know, the better prepared they’ll be.  I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.

However, I think that not only do we need to involve employees by letting them know what you (the corporation) expects of them, the corporation should involved their employees by performing the reverse; find out what employees are expecting from the corporation.  We can tout the virtues of our plans and processes and provide all sort of information to employees.  Using various awareness and training methods we can let the know what is expected of them; when to do something, when not to do something, why they are doing it and what it is they are to do.  What if they are expecting something different than what you’ve developed.  Meaning, what if they ain’t buyin’ what you’re sellin’?

Involvement has to be a two way street; like communication, it must be dialogue and not monologue.  We can’t just tell people what they are to do, we have to listen to them and understand their expectations and concerns.  If they don’t understand their role and don’t get to communicate their concerns, there is a possibility that when your plans and procedures are implemented, the people you want to follow them, don’t (or won’t).

When thinking about getting employees involved, ask yourself – and your employees – these questions:

  1. Are the instructions clearly understandable?
  2. What are your concerns with the strategies?  / What are your concerns if a disaster occurs?
  3. What do you expect (from the organization) when a disaster occurs?
  4. What can/might improve these procedures?
  5. Does the communication strategy meet your need?
  6. How can we improve our intended strategy?
  7. What do you think is missing from these plans/processes/strategies?
  8. If you had to be the one to implement these strategies, could you follow them?

This doesn’t mean that you tailor multiple strategies to the individual though you could if that is your intent.  What it does do though, is help identify gaps in your strategies that may have been assumptions or simply overlooked and not even noticed by planners.  The answers will give you perspective on not only what the expectations of the company executives are (they should know the plans and procedures you’re communicating) but also understand what the perceptions and expectations are of the general employee base.

Lets’ use a simple example to explain what I mean.  You tell me you’ve planned a trip for me and then you tell me all the things I’ll be doing.  However, when you present it to me I point out that you’ve forgotten to take into consideration by pet, my aversion to flying, my need to stay on the ground floor of a hotel because I’m scared of heights and other such details that may not have been considered – or known – when planning was under way.  You (the corporation) have a plan in place for me and expect me to follow it but I (the employee) must be able to point out my concerns/issues so that your plans can be tailored to the satisfaction of both parties.  Only when both parties understand and contribute will the plans and processes work – and I get the trip that meets my needs.  J

So when communicating your plans and processes, take time to listen to the feedback you get; it could enhance you processes and plans and ensure that everyone expectations are met and that expected outcomes occur as desired.



 “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility” and “Made Again Volume 1 – Practical Advice for Business Continuity Programs”

by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3

Available at www.stone-road.com, www.amazon.com & www.volumesdirect.com


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