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Ask Betsy! Webinar Star Betsy Sayers Answers Your Burning BCM Questions – Work-Life Balance and Moving from ‘Motivated’ to ‘Ready, Willing, and Able’

January 15, 2019 Leave a comment DRI Admin

During our recent Women in BCM – Ask Betsy webinar, we encouraged you to send in your burning questions for our presenter, BCM veteran Betsy Sayers, MBCP, and you delivered! We’re pleased to present another installment in a multi-part Q&A series. 

Q: How do you manage manager expectations of your balance between work and personal life when you’re on call 24/7/365 to respond to events/incidents on a global scale?

Betsy: Gosh, on call 24/7/365 globally? There’s no such thing as work/life balance if you are the only one trying to achieve that goal with any brain cells intact!

I was only 24/7/365 across Canada and for a long time struggled – can’t imagine juggling all those time zones internationally as well. I assume you are not in an industry that appropriately compensates you for all this ‘on call’ time either.

Here’s what I did – I hope it’s helpful:

  1. My efforts to discuss it with my boss from a personal work/life balance perspective fell on deaf ears. So then I waited a while for the topic to disappear from his mindset and came at it from a different perspective.  The next time I was going on holidays I asked who would be carrying this responsibility for the 2 weeks I’d be gone. No question they found someone appropriate to step in while I was away.   Now I had an alternate!  If they had not found someone then I would have questioned the need for me to be on-call 24/7/365.
  2. Then I started carefully tracking and requesting permission to either submit overtime for every call I got (even just 20 minutes) after I had finished my 8 hours day or to be given time off in lieu of time spent without payment. Now I was clearly demonstrating the impact this was having on my personal life and sleepless nights.  Plus, I was finally costing them extra time off for me or $ for this service.
  3. Then I recommended and got approval for the Informatics Disaster Recovery BlackBerry (IDR BB) based on the fact that it should really be like a ‘red phone’ in the Whitehouse and not my regular BB cluttered with my real job data so it could be accessible to me. I recommended that the IDR BB should be more protected than the phone I had in my hand all day that could be easily lost if left behind at meetings or someplace else.  I also pointed out that it is industry best practice for a professional in my position to have 2 BBs during an emergency, incoming (the IDR BB) and outgoing (I could use my own personal BB for this) so we would be implementing an industry response best practice.  Now the ‘on call’ service was not personally connected to me and my BB, but was properly isolated to the IDR BB and depending on what was going on, could easily be transferred to others.
  4. Then I explained that in order for calls to the IDR BB to be properly to all times, it was important to train people and share the responsibility across the team of trained people. This brought us again into line with industry best practices of not just having alternates ready to step into your position at any time, but to also have a 3rd tertiary trained person for those times when either you as prime or your alternate were away.

The result:  Tremendous improvement to response capability at very little cost to the organization (1 BB and couple of cross-trained staff members who took the BB every 3rd week plus sanity and life balance for you.

Q: Regarding the 4 Generations of Cultural Change, we have two years since we launched the BCM program based on DRI in my organization, but we already have some areas in “The Motivated” field. What hints or tips can you share to move these people to “The Ready, Willing & Able”?

Betsy: I have dealt with this same challenge several times over the years and found it usually was directly connected to two things – lack of budget or skilled resources to do the job.

If my program represented a significant level of resource effort for the service owner, they could never find time to move into the Ready, Willing and Able group.  Sadly, those that did find a resource to work on this tended to use it as the ‘special assignment’ for that employee who didn’t quite fit anywhere else in their organization.  I spent more time trying to train people on BCM that did not want to be trained and got out of that job as fast as they could that I was spinning my wheels.

Your ability to assist with the ‘no budget’ excuse is confined to any BCM content support and/or rationale for needed $ you can provide.

However, to eliminate the ‘my team does not have time for this’ excuse, I came up with what we called our ‘Blitz’ approach to developing BC Plans.  A 3 tier Business Continuity Planning Model as follows:

  • Tier 1 plans = strategic only – the results of a ½ day facilitated workshop for functional work teams of 4-8 people during which we completed risk assessment; business impact analysis; identified the most appropriate response team structure and membership; identified recovery strategy options and developed a next steps action plan. Every functional team; every site in the organization was required to do AT LEAST Level 1 planning by my CIO.
  • Tier 2 plans = tactical but not implemented – we needed to get Executive approval, obtain budget; acquire goods or services; write technical specs for an RFP or do more detailed planning with inter-connected groups or external partners;
  • Tier 3 plans = goods and services required are in place and have been exercised/tested successfully. BCP is embedded in how we do business so change management is appropriately managed and plans are able to be efficiently updated on an annual basis or when any major change occurs.

After conducting the first few workshops, we found a high level of commonality across the organization that meant I could take the results of some workshops and turn them into a generic plan for similar functions in other buildings etc. in turn reducing the level of effort required again.

Functional groups or services with a Recovery Time Objective in excess of 10 business days that demonstrated existing capability to meet needs within the RTO window had the requirement to complete Tier 2 and 3 planning waived.  WOW did this ever alter RTOs that service owners were insisting on!


Hope this is helpful… if you attend DRI2019 in Las Vegas, don’t hesitate to say hello!

Take care,

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