6 things every risk manager should be obsessed with right now.

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Risk managers are special.  They help steer organizations, protect their employees, students and the community at large.  They provide a great space for children to learn in that is free of hazards and they help organizations and communities recover from destructive emergencies.  But not all risk managers are equipped with the mindset to succeed as a risk manager.

Here are a few traits that every risk manager should get obsessed with and practice daily:

Money Management

Typically, the risk management department is not a profit center, but that shouldn’t stop you from thinking about money every day.  You have to become the CEO of your department and treat it as such.  You should understand your budget, what your inventory/asset costs are, your current liabilities (claims), where you derive your operating budget and the like.  You need to understand what drives these costs and how to control them.  I recently asked my CPA what the biggest failure to businesses was – his response “not controlling costs.”  Now, you can say what you want about letting the bean counter run the business, but the truth is that cost-overruns will always catch up with you.

Marketing and Advertising

As Gary Vaynerchuk once opined, the best book ever written was not on  the New York Bestsellers list.  One of the biggest reasons products do so well is their marketing and advertising efforts.  If your risk management programs are not well utilized or sit on the shelf and collect dust, they probably haven’t been marketed properly.  Marketing is a science and understanding that science will make you shine.  Start by analyzing your employee or client base – who are they, what turns them on, what age group are they in, what do they respond to, etc…   Ask yourself, do much written programs match up to the 0rganizations look and feel, do they convey the brand?  Then ask yourself, how do I measure up?  Do I convey the brand – helpful, seeking ways to solve problems, etc….

Failure is Okay

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was a failure during the construction phase.  But the builders didn’t let their failure stop them from finishing.  The world is shifting its mindset to accept failure and see it as a testing ground – a way to learn.  I believe in the concepts of “gentle pressure” and “grassroots movements” because they are methods that reinforce persistence.  And persistence wins the race.  Just because a program failed, doesn’t mean that it’s not needed or that it can’t work.  It could simply be a marketing issue or it could need a revision.  But too many risk managers give up on the first attempt.  Learn from your failures and move ahead.

Minimal Viable Product

This touches on the concept of failure, but with a slightly different intent.  Just get started.  You don’t have to develop the best product with every conceivable feature.  What you need to do is develop a product/program that covers the main points and build in features as you go along.  Let’s take your training program as an example.  Maybe you are seeking to put everything online.  Can you start with a few training courses and add more as you go – certainly!   You can also continue to add cool things like certificate issuance, news, faq’s and Q&A forums too.  You don’t need to have everything to get started.  Plus getting feedback from your employees make the feel as they helped create the product.

The Art of Giving

One big problem with risk managers is that they were told “no” a lot.  So they tell everyone “no.”   At PARMA 2014, there were many conversations around the topic of saying “no” and none of them were good.  As risk managers, we have to seek ways to give back and to say “yes”, we can do that.  Find ways to give to your co-workers without telling them they can’t do this and they can’t do that.

Saving Lives and Preventing Injuries

This is the characteristic that should be at the forefront of every risk managers mind.  This is the key piece of criteria that should be used to judge the effectiveness of programs.  Does it really focus on preventing injuries, saving lives, and saving money.  All too often we are focused on the latest technology that takes more man hours to use than just running to the next room and conveying your message.  We spend countless resources on items that are luxuries that make no impact on the people we serve.  We should refocus our attention on the efforts that we were hired for  – protecting people, property, environment and the organizations assets.

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