Communication in Risk Management

In this session what I want to talk about is communication.

But not communication and consultation in respect to the risk management process that is in the standard. Obviously we do need to communicate and consult with our stakeholder community around risk and risk management as we go through the process.

But what I want to talk about specifically today is communication as a risk mitigation strategy or control that can avoid many-many of the risks and incidents that organisations face.

See what we fail to do in many organisations is actually identify our stakeholder community. And, what’s a stakeholder? A stakeholder is an organisation or someone who has an interest in the outcomes or even perceives themselves to have an interest in the outcomes or the objectives of the organisation.

And we tend to see those in two types of categories: our primary stakeholders, and they are the ones with the influence, they are the ones that perhaps provide funding, provide policy, provide approvals and sign offs. They are the ones that actually provide part of your outcome: your staff and your contractors.

And then we have our secondary stakeholders, they have little to know influence but they might have a significant interest in the outputs or the objectives of the particular organisation.

So the first key to stakeholder management is to identify who our stakeholders are. And at that point in time, we might want to try and identify whether they are primary stakeholders or whether they are secondary stakeholders.

The next and most important step in this process however is understanding, agreeing, negotiating and signing off on expectations. If you think about your organisation or even at home, the greater source of conflict comes from a lack of understanding or lack of meeting somebody else’s expectations.

But what we do or what we tend to do is we assume that we know what those expectations are, and we start to perform our duties or develop our organisations and our products against what we believe the stakeholder expects.

But of course if you never asked them, and they have never signed off then you run a significant risk of not being able to meet those expectations.

So every organisation, every organisation has expectations placed on them by their stakeholder community. They also have an ability to meet those stakeholder expectations. And it’s in very few cases I would imagine that you are going to meet every stakeholders expectations, all of them, all of the time.

And so the gap between what is expected of us and what we deliver is a risk to us. Of course, the last thing you want is that, the first time you are finding out that you haven’t met the stakeholder expectation is when you are delivering a product or a service to them. If we take the time to identify not only our stakeholders but what their expectations are, you will reduce conflict in your organisation significantly.

And it doesn’t necessarily just need to be with our external stakeholders. What do your staff expect? What do you expect of your staff? Have you had a discussion around that? And if we can meet our staff expectations then obviously it’s going to be a much better culture within which we are working.

And if we understand our internal and external stakeholder expectations, we are going to be in a much better position to meet those expectations. And therefore, achieve our organisational objectives, which then allows us to meet our strategic goals as well.

So this is a really important aspect not only in terms of managing a risk management process through communication and consultation, but as a risk mitigation strategy and a source of reduction in conflict within organisations and between organisations.

Take the time to know who you are stakeholders are and what they expect of you, sign off those expectations and I can guarantee you that the conflict within your organisation itself and your external stakeholder community will reduce significantly.

That’s all I have got for this session. As always let’s be careful out there.

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