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Posted 12th February 2024

Building a Proactive Incident Management Culture in SMEs

Building a proactive incident management doesn’t mean you’re manifesting for the worst to happen. You’re simply safeguarding your business and ensuring it can effectively respond to and mitigate potential challenges, which, trust me, are numerous. Last year, cyber incidents were the leading risk for businesses worldwide, making up 34% of incidents, while natural catastrophes accounted […]

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building a proactive incident management culture in smes.


Building a Proactive Incident Management Culture in SMEs

Building a proactive incident management doesn’t mean you’re manifesting for the worst to happen. You’re simply safeguarding your business and ensuring it can effectively respond to and mitigate potential challenges, which, trust me, are numerous.

Last year, cyber incidents were the leading risk for businesses worldwide, making up 34% of incidents, while natural catastrophes accounted for 19%. It goes to show that you can never be fully prepared, as unexpected challenges can hit you from anywhere.

However, by building a proactive incident management culture in your business, you’ll surely be more prepared than you were yesterday. Wondering how to foster it and how such an incident management approach can benefit SMEs in the UK? Let’s dive in and find out!

Importance of proactive incident management culture in SMEs

Sure, natural catastrophes aren’t that common, but an incident management culture does more than protect you from such dire circumstances. It helps you and your employees deal with day-to-day issues that all Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) face.

  • Spot and reduce potential risks. If your business considers incidents a taboo subject, employees might find themselves doubting whether to report if they’ve made a mistake. They won’t even know how to respond to a more serious threat. But when aware of the potential risks, they can spot and mitigate them before they cause bigger problems.
  • Improve incident response. You know how most businesses implement regular fire drills so that employees can train on how to exit a building quickly if fire strikes? Well, when growing in a proactive incident management culture, they’ll learn to respond to any type of emergency just as effectively.
  • Comply with regulations. SMEs make up 99% of all businesses in the EU, so it’s only natural for incident management regulations to be in place. You might see these as barriers, but they actually exist to facilitate the safe operation of your business. For example, GDPR ensures you’re responsibly handling customers’ personal data.

A proactive incident management culture is a blameless culture, after all. Understanding that every person can make a mistake, equipment can malfunction, and the unexpected can happen to anyone. It’s better to be a leader who empowers employees to learn from their mistakes and other incidents rather than fostering fear or shame.

How to promote incident management culture

It’s true that the issues aren’t the same for all SMEs, but the way in which you’ll handle them comes down to the same principles. If we were to compare incident management for ITSM (IT Service Management) with emergency response in healthcare, we’d see that no matter the issue, its resolution starts and ends with clearly defined roles and trained employees.

Clarify roles and responsibilities

Are your employees fully aware of their roles? You’ve maybe assigned one to them on paper, but do they know the exact responsibilities that come with the job? If not, employees can easily become competitive and start arguing over who’s responsible during emergencies.

Let me give you a simple example. If, during a busy dinner rush, employees start arguing over who’s going to clean up a spilled drink, they’re just going to lose their and the customer’s precious time. This is a totally unnecessary conflict, isn’t it?

With clearly defined roles, you’re giving each of your employees a purpose. They know exactly when they’re supposed to act during an emergency. For example, an incident commander will lead the way, while an incident responder will address the root of the incident.

Establish clear communication

You know, promoting an incident management culture shouldn’t be that hard for a leader, especially in Small and Medium Enterprises. You’re already a skilled communicator, and communication is key to everything. Anyways, here are some pointers:

  • Try being as open as possible about the incident response plans and protocols by implementing reporting channels and escalation protocols.
  • Encourage your employees to provide feedback on incident management processes so that they can continuously learn from past incidents.
  • Be human. Thank your employees when they’re doing their best, and teach them when they’re making mistakes.

Of course, you should always stick to your leader attitude, but at the end of the day, we’re all human, and what do humans do when an incident happens? They communicate. When you’re able to communicate with your team clearly, you’ll see how smoothly you can get back on track.

Train your team on incident management

Let’s get one thing clear – your employees won’t know how to react during an emergency situation if they’re not properly trained. Can you expect a bystander to know how to administer CPR in a life-or-death situation if they’ve never done it before? Of course not.

Your employees can learn how to deal with unexpected emergencies with proper training, so make sure to invest in one regularly. They’ll obtain the knowledge and skills they need to respond effectively and learn how to do it calmly, without panicking and thinking twice.

Fostering a proactive incident approach

Building a proactive incident management culture is how you guarantee that your business is prepared to take on challenges before they escalate. From the different types of cyber-attacks to operational incidents and human errors, there are many reasons why you need this approach.

Sure, you can implement software and security measures, but the only way to truly ensure you’re prepared to handle an incident is by working together as a team. If we’d only learn how to understand each other better and communicate clearly, we’d be one step ahead of all troubles.

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