Risk and Your Career and The BA Debacle

Bear with me on this – because I think there is a link between the British Airways debacle (here and here), risk and your career. And the link is Risk. And in particular, Risk Assessment.

I was mulling over the information we’ve been given so far (and it’s pretty limited) about what happened at BA to cause the massive disruption to flights over the recent Bank Holiday and the impact it had on its customers, its share price, and on the reputation of the senior BA and IAG executives involved.

I see them working to place the blame on ‘human error’ and therefore suggest that it was caused by someone acting alone and outside of their operating instructions. To me however, this isn’t enough. The problem should have been foreseeable, therefore it should have been assessable, therefore it should have been open to a Risk Assessment. Either this wasn’t done, or if done, they got the assessment wrong and therefore the treatment wrong. And that is a leadership responsibility!

But this post isn’t really about the BA situation. Rather it’s about how thinking about and understanding risk can help you develop an outstanding career. And that means undertaking and acting upon a Career Risk Assessment.

My thinking on this is developing, so this is just a starter. I’ll come back to risk and your career in further posts.

Risk and Your Career

Here is where I’m going with this – we all look at our world through tinted lenses. We’ve developed our own personal and unique lens over the years and we keeping on building it throughout our life.

We also all have various confirmation biases, that lead us to pay more attention to the stimuli that support our beliefs, ideas and actions i.e. we focus on the information that reinforces whatever we think, and pay less attention to any and all information that suggests we may not be right.

When it comes to risk and your career, the chances are you’ve not considered it from the perspective of risk – of being really strict in capturing the information that could identify where your ideas and action plans may be weak, may not a have a clear Plan B and where you may get derailed.

What is Risk?

A basic but important step is to be clear about what we mean by the following terms:

  • Risk Assessment – A Risk Assessment is the process by which you establish estimates of the risks posed by identified threats
  • Risk – Risk is the potential of gaining or losing something of value
  • Threat – A Threat is something (a situation, an action, potential action, or inaction) which is likely to cause damage, harm or loss i.e. a description of ‘what could go wrong’
  • Impact – Impact is the effect of the threat on one or several factors that are important to you e.g. income, health, work environment, reputation…
  • Likelihood – Likelihood is the probability of occurrence of the Threat
  • Risk Matrix – A chart that aligns the Impact and Likelihood dimensions and assigns a level of Risk to each element within
  • Treatment – Treatment is essentially the decision you make about what to do with each of the Threats, having completed your Risk Assessment. Typically, it involves decisions about whether you Ignore (Accept), Act (Treat), Insure (Transfer) or Avoid the Threat and what your action plan is to deliver on the decision

Immediate Steps to Take about Risk and Your Career

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to build some models to illustrate this and help you through the assessment process. In the meantime, here are two immediate steps you can take;

  • Be clear about your overall career goals – If you aren’t clear, then grab a copy of ‘How to have an outstanding career‘ and work through the exercises to develop that clarity
  • Start listing any ‘Threats’ you identify. At this stage, don’t do any assessment of them – just record them. Examples that come to mind include; in debt, lack of savings, no or poor reputation in the company, dull or boring work, no prospects with current employer, being passed over for promotion, poor relationship with my manager, over-qualified for current role, under-qualified for future roles…

Hope that helps and look forward to building this into something really helpful. Do let me know how you get on.

Susan Scott
How to prevent burnout and reignite your life and career
How to have an outstanding career

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