This week, our newest Risk Analyst, James, has completed his Management of Risk Foundation qualification and is full of enthusiasm for the subject. He joined us as a graduate and has spent the first six months supporting our highly manual, monthly risk reporting processes. He’s proved himself to be pretty valuable and diligent doing a task which most months consists of finding half a dozen different ways of nagging senior individuals into providing their updated risk log spreadsheets.
In James’ one to one, I asked about how he felt he was getting on. He told me that the moment risk management really clicked for him was when he overheard me expressing some frustration* in conversation with our CRO about the tardiness of the risk reporting coming out of the first line. I was telling the CRO that the risk champion in Finance had told James, rather shirtily, that he had more important things to worry about than his risks.
“What the ‘feather’ might those worrying things be, if they are not his risks?” I had ranted at our CRO. “Because if this manager in Finance is prioritising work which is not on his risk log then the risk reporting can’t be complete. And if the risk log document is a fair representation of the risks in that department and yet those items are not being dealt with as a priority, logically there is a management failure.”
Of course a simpler and more likely explanation might just be that the risk champion knew he was in the wrong and decided that the best form of defence is attack, so gave my junior team member a verbal bashing rather than admit he needed help or even a bit more time.
Fortunately, James stuck politely to his guns and both myself and the CRO came out in his support. The issue went away, but I suspect only temporarily because it’s a symptom of a wider problem.
Either way, James is coming on nicely, so I suggested he arrange to meet with the new HR risk champion to discuss our current risk reporting processes. We caught up for a chat after their meeting so he could tell me about it. His main query seemed to revolve around a comment the HR risk champion had made relating to concerns about how the organisation should, and I quote, “manage matters where two colleagues are found in flagrante”.
“There’s a rumour, likely to be correct, that someone from Procurement and someone from Finance were caught in flagrante.” James told me. “Why is this an issue?”
I explained that these situations can commonly be associated with collusion or blackmail. “What? Just because they had lunch together?” he asked with some surprise.
Turns out he thought “Flagrante” was the new tapas bar round the corner. Keeping a straight face was the hardest thing I’ve done all week.
Youth really is no substitute for experience. I was reminded of my Plain English campaign. Clearly it needs a refresh.
Who is the Secret Risk Manager?
The Secret Risk Manager is a senior risk professional working in the City. Over the years, they’ve seen a variety of risk practices - good, bad and ugly - across a variety of industries.
Like many risk professionals, the Secret Risk Manager’s CV has a large unspoken element. They are called upon to be in turns, therapist, coach, detective, mediator, behavioural scientist, parent, mind reader, futurologist, story-teller, philosopher and diplomat.
These articles do not pretend to constitute advice, but only to provide a frank and hopefully thought provoking look into the often frustrating world of those people who help organisations manage their risks. The subject matter is experience based, but fictional.
Any resemblance to actual incidents or persons living or dead is purely coincidental. But let’s face it, there’s not much new under the sun so you’ve probably seen it before.