|Lee Glendon CBCI|
Mentioning “soft skills” can prompt a variety of reactions from people, from an enthusiastic nodding of the head to a rather contorted smile. However, research shows that among Top Management success is 75% about soft skills and only 25% technical ability. This presents a real challenge for operationally-minded BCM practitioners in achieving and sustaining engagement with senior executives around the benefits of business continuity management programmes.
The C-Level Water Cooler Meeting Toolkit is an attempt to provide practitioners with a framework to support their engagement with senior executives. The toolkit takes a three-pronged approach to tackling the challenge: the first part profiles the relevant executives in your organisation – this profiling considers the background, interests, goals, and likely objections from these executives to engaging on BCM; the second part is to consider those elements or aspects of the BCM programme that fit with the interests and goals of the executives; and the third element outlines the soft skills – some 30 different skills - that are required to connect at a personal level with executives.
In Monday’s webinar on the toolkit (click here to replay>>) much of the discussion majored on the usefulness of soft skills.
The BCI was supported by Phil Carter, a personal development coach, in crafting the content, and Phil shared his experiences of “managing upwards” on the webinar. Phil explained that opportunities to meet with executives will not be frequent and “asking an executive to wait at the water cooler while you go and get your spreadsheet” needs to be replaced with an approach that gets you a follow up meeting because you are seen as being someone who thinks like them and can help them. So messages to executives need to be structured, in terms of a short-, medium- and long-term game plan.
In expanding on one of the soft skills, “strategic networking”, Phil added that strategic networking is about being useful and offering value, he contrasted this with talking about “collaboration”, because collaboration could be seen by the other person as an attempt to take over what they do!
Talking soft skills is a new area for the BCI, so we would welcome your thoughts and experiences to help inform how we develop the toolkit in the future, and as importantly how we should be looking to support the delivery of advice and training in soft skills development – are we looking at signposting, online webinars, 2-day training courses or one-to-one coaching? The options are explored in the webinar.