Communicating Risk Management To Your Organisation
This is the second step in a seven-stage process of successfully tackling risk management in your organisation. Whilst this step is notional the second in the process it is, in fact, an ongoing step. In this regard you need to continually communicate throughout the process with your organisation and others who may be impacted.
Before embarking on the risk management process it is worth reviewing the reasons for doing this. Apart from the obvious answer of wanting to protect the members of your organisation from injury or death, there are valid reasons why we should all look at developing a risk management process. These must be clearly communicated to everyone in your organisation in order that they are aware of the reasons for the process.
Protect your organisation from legal liability
Putting a risk management strategy in place will help protect your organisation from claims that could cost it hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Lower Insurance premiums
If you can provide evidence that you are effectively implementing safe practices and have moved to deal with major risks, insurers will be more likely to provide cover and to do so at a more reasonable cost.
Improved perception of your organisation by employees and partners
Implementing risk management principles enhances your organisation’s capacity to present a professional image and enables it to promote and market itself as an organisation that has strong standards of conduct. It also assists your organisation to structure itself to run effectively and efficiently.
Better information for decision making
The process that is undertaken for identifying, assessing and evaluating risks will highlight requirements that your organisation should review and prioritise. By stepping through the process and continually reviewing these decisions over time you will enhance the capacity for management to make decisions based on facts rather then speculation.
Better asset management and maintenance
Setting up a risk management register will assist you to list the physical assets owned by your organisation. It also encourages staff to report any problem as soon as it becomes a danger. Maintaining equipment of a regular basis is cheaper than waiting until things are falling apart before getting them fixed, and is much more likely to prevent potential injury.
Good communication is essential for any effective risk management strategy. Managing risks involves everyone in your organisation, from the chairman of the board to the most junior member of staff.
Therefore, it is vital that everybody in your organisation understands what risk management is and why it is important, and that they are involved in developing and implementing a risk management strategy. Use the points outlined in the seven stages to inform everyone why you are undertaking a risk management review.
It is important to involve everybody from the beginning in order that they are not afraid of the process and do not feel that decisions are being imposed from above. At the same time, members of the organisation should understand that senior management have a commitment to effective risk management.
Implementing risk management may be a significant culture shift in your organisation because it will effect the way that it operates at every level; therefore, effective communication is vital throughout the process. Initially, you should inform your organisation about the nature of the risk management process and why you are doing it. As the process unfolds, you should keep the communication lines open at every step, as described below. You should let people know what direction you are heading, what steps you are taking, the progress of risk management treatment and obtain feedback at each stage of the process.
You should also develop systems to ensure good communication between different levels of the organisation, and also amongst people on any particular level. Some mechanisms for this should be formalised to ensure they occur.
There are many possible ways of communicating risk management to members of your organisation, apart from merely keeping the lines open on the subject all the time. To achieve this, you should use as many of the following methods as you consider necessary;
Forming a risk management committee
While good risk management is the job of everybody in your organisation, having a core group of people dedicated to the task is a good idea – just as you would form a committee to tackle other important issues. It is important that strong communication links are established between this group and senior management and the group should report at regular intervals. The size of a committee will depend on the size of your organisation. Committees should also use the other communication methods outlined below.
These meetings give people the opportunity to ask questions and provide input into the process. Regular briefings, meetings and workshops may also keep people informed of what stage of the process your organisation is at, what is happening and if it is making satisfactory progress. The meetings are also an ideal opportunity to receive feedback. As part of the continual monitoring and review of the strategy, meetings will continue to play an important role after the risk management strategy is in place.
Brainstorming is one of the simplest but most effective methods of communicating within your organisation. Essentially it involves everyone in the group, working to produce any answers they can think of to a particular question; these may have many answers. The easiest way to brainstorm is to have someone in front of the meeting who writes everything down on a white board or sheets of butchers’ paper. In these situations, there are no wrong answers – write everything down.
A brainstorming session is an excellent communication tool because it makes everyone feel that they are involved and will draw upon your best resource: your personnel.
Brainstorming sessions are beneficial in identifying risks in your organisation, with everyone contributing their ideas. In the end, it is the people who take an active role in your organisation are in the best position to know what risks they face.
Newsletters and Bulletins
Not everyone may attend every meeting, therefore it is useful to put down on paper, a summary of what is happening in risk management in your organisation and distribute this as a newsletter through e-mail or in the mail and/or by pinning a bulletin on your notice board.
You should include the results of any brainstorming session and decisions made at meetings, so that everyone is kept informed of developments.
At the start of the risk management process it may be a good idea to send out a questionnaire to people in your organisation to discover what risks they perceive exist in your organisation’s activities.
Produce a resource for staff or those associated with your organisation.
A risk management guide is an excellent tool for everyone involved with your organisation, to make them aware of risk management issues. It can be used to define key terms so that everyone is working towards the same end and can also serve as a reference throughout the risk management process, for information and as a reference point to ensure people stay on track.
A guide such as this can also include a component that invites feedback from your personnel.
Where to Start
If your organisation does not have a risk management strategy in place, you should create one; beginning by making sure everybody in your group knows what it is and why you’re doing it. An initial meeting, brainstorming session or special newsletter, which may include a questionnaire, are good places to begin.
After attending this meeting or receiving the newsletter personnel should understand what risk management is about and why it is important.
Two of the common myths about risk management are:
- Risk management is not an important issue, or “it doesn’t apply to us”
- Risk management is too difficult, complicated or expensive
Risk management is a crucial issue that applies to every organisation, from multi-national corporations self employed practitioners.
Although the risk management process may be intimidating at first, there are two very simple reasons why it isn’t as bad as many people think.
Firstly, your organisation must run an operation that is safe; it is in everybody’s interest. Secondly, much of risk management is common sense; in fact, you are probably doing a lot of it already without even realising it.
Consider these questions:
- Do you have smoke alarms or fire extinguishers in your building
- Do you have policies covering bullying and harassment
- Do you keep dangerous items and materials in a safe place
- Do you fix or replace faulty electrical equipment
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you are already practicing risk management.
Much of this process is about putting on paper, the things you are doing and then identifying other risks that you may not have thought of; developing a process to deal with them.
In fact, your organisation will see many benefits, from effective risk management, that have nothing to do with avoiding costly lawsuits. Less lost time due to accidents, increased productivity and higher staff morale.
Effective communication of risk management involves making sure that everyone involved understands key concepts that form part of this process.
What is risk
Risk is virtually anything that threatens or limits the ability of an organisation to achieve its goals.
It can be unexpected and unpredictable events such as the destruction of a building, the wiping of all your computer files or an injury to a staff member or visitor who slips on a slippery floor and sues the organisation. These and countless others can happen and have the potential to damage your organisation, cost you money or, in a worst-case scenario, cause your organisation to close.
What is risk management
Risk management is a process of thinking systematically about all possible risks, problems or disasters before they happen and setting up procedures to avoid the risk, minimise its effects or cope with its impact.
You cannot predict everything that could happen but, discussing risk management will make even the most unpredictable event easier to deal with.
You may not consider a semi-trailer crashing through the front of your premises as a likely risk for your organisation, but if you have plans to deal with other disasters and people are aware of risk management issues, they will be able to respond to such an event faster and more effectively, and your organisation will benefit.
Risk management begins with three basic questions:
- What can go wrong
- What will we do to prevent it
- What will we do if it happens
Communication does not start and finish with a meeting to explain the risk management strategy. Communication must continue to explain what you are doing, and why you are doing it, at every step of the risk management process.
Treat feedback seriously and remember to ensure that you keep the context of your organisation in mind; do not aim to recreate the world through risk management. Instead, aim to ensure that you have risks identified and a process in place to treat them.
Remember to document your every step because committee members will need to refer back to what has taken place. Also remember to ensure that you keep documentary evidence of the risks you identify and any incidents that occur.
Feedback from group members and people that you come into contact with in the course of your activities should be taken into account in developing and managing your risk management strategy.
While all care has been taken in the preparation of this material, no responsibility is accepted by the author(s), Cornstalk Software P/L or its staff, for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies. The material provided in this document has been prepared to provide general information only. It is not intended to be relied upon or be a substitute for legal or other professional advice.
No responsibility can be accepted by the author(s) or Cornstalk Software P/L for any known or unknown consequences that may result from reliance on any information provided in this publication
- Analysing Risks In Your Organisation
- Establishing A Context For Risk Management
- Evaluating Risks In Your Organisation
- Identifying Risks In Your Organisation
- Monitoring and Reviewing Risks In Your Organisation
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- SOP Software to help you manage your standard operating procedures (SOP)
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