Crisis Management Series
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[CM] Step 11: Build and Maintain Teamwork

I must emphasize that this step should be undertaken during each phase rather than at the end of the CMP project.

On a typical CMP project, team members will come from a variety of different disciplines and will have their areas of specialized expertise.

This diversity of backgrounds can cause communication problems within the team and present difficulties in channelling everyone's efforts in the same direction.

If communication and technical expertise are not managed effectively, team members may begin working at cross purposes, and the CMP project can get dangerously off track.

To avoid this, you may want to explore the following strategies that can be employed.

Moh Heng Goh
Crisis Management Certified Planner-Specialist-Expert

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Communicate and Participate

IC_More_CM Project_Build and Maintain TeamworkThe Organisation CM Coordinator should conduct communication at all levels. This is one strategy for building a winning team and should be done whenever possible.

  • Get out of your office and talk to people
  • Make contact
  • Use the experience of others
  • Develop a network of allies and know your opposition
  • Develop your credibility by giving supervisors and peers something they can use
  • Emphasize survivability and sustainability of organisation and safety and continued employment of personnel
  • Understand the key to project management success:
    • Choose the right people
    • Encourage and manage them effectively
  • Recruit the most qualified people

    • Do not take a body to fill a position

  • Involve first-level management in the project, and they will involve their staff
  • Facilitate and coordinate with Heads of the Business Unit of the CMP team members who do not report to you
  • Motivate CMP team members to contribute their best
  • Do not over-supervise team progress
  • Set expectations of success
  • Resolve technical disagreements early
  • Facilitate team growth
    • Form
    • Storm
    • Norm
    • Perform

  • Live by ground rules set by the CMP team

  • Instill a sense of mission

  • Help team members see the big CMP picture

Organise Teams

 The organization of the team is critical to ensuring teamwork.

  • Develop team organisation and structure
  • Utilize the expertise of CMP team members
  • Define team objectives
  • Get the team to internalise the CM plan and make the plan its own

Understand Organizational Structures

The Organization's CM Coordinator must learn to use both “formal” and “informal” organizational structures. This understanding is especially useful when pushing for CMP support through informal means.

Share Business and Technical Expertise

The CMP project requires business and technical expertise in many different disciplines. There is a need to share knowledge amongst the CMP project team members as the Organization CM Coordinator is simply out of his or her depth.

Facilitate Structured Brainstorming

During the CMP project, frequent brainstorming sessions with CMP team members to devise strategies and solutions to technical problems are likely to be necessary.

Given the diversity of expertise on the CMP project, the Organisation CM Coordinator must facilitate these sessions in a structured fashion to ensure everyone's participation and understanding of relevant technical concepts.

Do not allow individual members to take off on obscure technical directions that no one else can follow. Make them slow down and express their ideas in layman's terms so that everyone can participate in the discussion.

Translate Jargon and Slang into English

It may seem, at times, as if everyone on the team is speaking a different language. Each discipline has its peculiar idiom and uses jargon that may be meaningless to uninitiated CMP team members.

The Organization CM Coordinator must be able to recognize when a CMP team member is spouting “Jargons and Slang” and ensure that it is translated into the common language, presumably English.

This translation process cannot only improve understanding but also help ensure the validity of the suggestions or arguments being presented.

Issue Work Orders for Technical Tasks

When presented with a specific task, some technical people become absorbed in the fine details and lose sight of the original goal.

As a result, considerable time may be spent on irrelevant, or even counterproductive, activities. Therefore, it may be advisable to issue written “work orders” for technical assignments explicitly stating the objectives and parameters of the assignment.

This approach is analogous to issuing a work order to a car mechanic rather than allowing him or her to fiddle under the hood indiscriminately.

Insist Upon Written Documentation

No CMP assignment should be considered complete until the results of that assignment have been documented in writing. While many CMP team members dislike documentation, this requirement must be insisted upon for several reasons. It will:

  • Enable the Organisation  CM Coordinator to verify the successful completion of the task
  • Make it easier to communicate and measure the results to the other CMP team members
  • Ensure that the assignment has been thought through in sufficient detail to withstand scrutiny

Get Audit Involved

I strongly advocate communicating and involving the auditors throughout the CMP project. Suppose each component of the CMP project can be audited and issues communicated to the Organisation CM Coordinator and CMP project team members during each phase. In that case, remedial actions can be taken without causing too much inconvenience to the participating business units.

 While the Organisation CM Coordinator may provide guidance, the audit personnel's understanding of the business areas will provide other perspectives on the plan's completeness.

Once the CM plan is implemented, the main benefits will be conducting regular audits, fully understanding the CM planning process, and ensuring that the various areas of the organization are familiar with the detailed recovery procedures.

Is This Another CMP Project Attempt?

In most organisations that I joined or was engaged as an external consultant, previous attempts had once or twice been made to develop CMP projects.

The common problem was that these previous attempts had been accompanied by a misunderstanding of the true goal of CM, a lack of Executive Management attention and support, or for no better reason than the auditor had insisted upon it.

There were other reasons, of course, but the bottom line is that there had been a history of bad practices. So, the resistance against another attempt at CMP must be overcome before any real, meaningful work can begin.

First, the CMP project tasks and activities can be assigned specific timeframes for completion. This will allow for the implementation of traditional project management techniques that track and report on the progress or lack thereof of the CMP project tasks and activities so that appropriate corrective actions can be taken.

The project schedule and timing for each business unit's CMP effort, involving all or most major business units (anywhere from ten to thirty), should be broken down roughly as recommended in "Project Schedule & Elapse Time." The detailed steps and activities can be found in "CMP Action Steps & Tasks."

The promise of rapid development of business unit continuity plans is often an attractive alternative. However, in most organisations, this promise appears to be a never-ending story when planning efforts are delayed and stretched out too long.


 It is unlikely that a given CMP project will encounter all the communication issues mentioned above. Nevertheless, communication during the CMP project should not be underestimated, as it is the means for everyone to have a common understanding of the deliverables.

Unfortunately, it is often hampered by the lack of time. There is no substitute for good communication at all levels, but you will need to plan for it.


CM Project Management Steps

Click to find out more about the detailed requirements for each step

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Goh, M. H. (2016). A Manager’s Guide to Implement Your Crisis Management Plan. Business Continuity Management Specialist Series (1st ed., p. 192). Singapore: GMH Pte Ltd.



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