Whether you are transitioning from a more traditional business to a high-growth start-up, or moving between organisations in the same sector, joining a new company can be a daunting proposition for any risk professional.
Upon entering a new role, the challenge for risk professionals – especially risk leaders – is two-fold.
Firstly, there is the matter of adjusting to your new surroundings and understanding the culture of the business, particularly with regards to behaviours: for example, are people likely to take risks or not?
Secondly, to emphasise the value of risk management to the organisation as something more than just a box-ticking activity, it’s important to make an impact as quickly as possible.
Risk Leadership Network has a cohort of members who have joined their companies in the last three to six months. These risk leaders new in role often come together during member meetings and facilitate one-to-one discussions to explore what areas they have focused on when entering a new business and how they have been able to adapt to a new business environment.
These experiences have been captured in a series of “new in role” case studies that members are able to access via our Intelligence platform.
In the meantime, here are three key tips shared by risk leaders new in role:
Review risk-related documents and frameworks
In terms of getting a baseline for how mature an organisation’s risk framework already is, looking at the risk documentation already in place – including policies, procedures, risk registers and more – can represent a useful first step.
As risk leaders explained, there are several clues to look for to reveal what the practice of risk management is like within the organisation; if documents are lifting straight from ISO 31000 standards, for example, this might suggest that the risk approach has not been adapted to fit the specific requirements and characteristics of the business.
Updating some of the key risk documentation could be an easy win for an incoming risk leader, as one of our members argued. They decided to update their new company’s risk management policy so it better reflected the long-term outlook and goals of the business – this was approved quickly by, and won them favour from, the board.
Make people risk-aware
For many risk professionals in the network, they have joined organisations that either do not have a sophisticated risk framework in place or that do have mature frameworks established but that need risk management better embedded across the company – as a result, a common priority amongst them is to sell the importance of risk management to the wider organisation and make people aware of its purpose.
One approach to this task (as a risk leader) is to engage with key individuals around the business directly – for example, one of our members explained how they made an effort to introduce themselves to members of the executive team and heads of departments, prompting several meetings on the topic of risk management.
At some companies, there is also the perception that risk management is a burdensome compliance activity that people have to do, rather than want to, so it’s vital to foster a more collaborative relationship between the risk team and the rest of the business: Risk doesn’t exist to stand in people’s way, but to support them. Are you marketing your risk function in this way?
Set the right pace of change
When making any changes to the risk management framework upon entering a new role, you must strike the right balance. There may be a whole host of improvements you can work towards implementing, but there is little value in leaving those more resistant to change behind.
As one risk leader explains, coaching people in a slower, more bespoke fashion, and winning their trust by directly addressing the difficulties they face when managing risks, could be a preferable approach to large workshops, which are more suited to providing a foundation in key risk management principles.
Equally, it is also important to engage with senior leaders and set reasonable expectations; this requires understanding what value they need the risk team to create across the business and ensuring there is enough in the way of resource to deliver this.
Are you new in role? Check out the collaboration opportunities happening across the network which are bringing together risk leaders to benchmark ideas, validate approaches and inform decisions.
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