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How to Improve Your Risk Assessment Skills

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It is impossible to fully eliminate risks in business, but we can work to understand and to assess them. In fact, as a leader of or as a part of a business, this is your responsibility. 


Assessing, managing, and circumventing risks may seem a little daunting at first, but this need not be the case. By developing certain skills, and by inculcating certain habits into their regular working practices, women in business and other professions can take risk assessment to the next level. 


Relish the responsibility, develop a strong foundation for handling and managing risk, and help to steer your organisation towards its objectives. 


Key Risk Assessment Skills


There are several key skills which are instrumental in assessing and dealing with risk. Some of them you may already have, while others may require work.


  Taking the Longview 

Risks have a habit of stacking up like dominoes; when one falls, it takes a whole lot of others with it. This is why risk assessment should be integrated into strategic planning and long-term objectives. Weigh the risks and potential gains with the future in mind, and gain better insight into the best course of action.


  Being Team-centric 

It is you and your team who will need to implement the strategies you put in place for avoiding risks, so focus on what they need. They may require additional resources or support in order to minimise risk and secure a successful strategy. Consult with your team and decide what is feasible and what is not. 


  Knowing Your Own Limitations 

From a leadership position, it is tempting to simply go it alone; to take a stand and to forge on ahead. This is foolhardy. You are not expected to know everything; but you are expected to act upon the best information possible.

If you need more data, request it. If you need to consult with different department heads, call a meeting. Fact-finding is not a sign of weakness; it is the sign of a businesswoman doing what’s right and who knows what is best for her organisation. 


  Master Clear Communication

You didn't get to the position you are at by getting tongue-tied or being timid, so your communication skills are probably already pretty sharp. However, clarity can always be honed and improved.

Think about the commands you give; think about the way you assign rules and roles to your team. To properly assess the risks involved with business, information needs to flow freely, and clear communication from all team members plays a major role in achieving this.


  Improving Risk Assessment for the Future


There is always room for improvement. Take a look at these tips to understand how you can hone and sharpen your risk assessment abilities. 


  Foster a Communicative Atmosphere

As we have discussed above, we cannot assess risks without high-quality data. This data comes from many sources—including analytics, client feedback, market reports, and so on—but one of your prime data resources is your own team. 

To tap this resource, make sure that the culture within your organisation is cordial, open, and communicative. Make it known that asking questions and delivering feedback is encouraged, and remain approachable. When the time comes to assess risks going forward, the information you need from your colleagues or team will be clear and easier to obtain. 


  Forge Good Habits 

Forging positive habits requires a sort of “muscle memory” approach; if you repeat the action often enough, it eventually becomes habit. 

Start by creating a schedule, and then use this to pencil in key audits, reviews, and progress reports from the different teams or departments of your business. This pulls the organisation together, creating a framework within which effective and efficient risk assessment can take place. 


  Keep Strategising, Keep Planning 

The natural order of things is to plan first, then go ahead and carry out the task. However, true planning and effective strategising never stops. Holding regular planning meetings keeps every member of your team on the same page, and implements a comprehensive understanding across the entire business. 

This means that each team—or each team member—understands not only their own duties, but how those duties affect the performance of other teams or departments within the business. The effects of this are hugely beneficial for risk assessment, as it enables you to quickly and easily gain a wide-ranging insight into the risks associated with each move.

BPW International develops the professional, business and leadership potential of women on all levels through advocacy, mentoring, networking, skill building and economic empowerment programs and projects around the world.


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Guest Thursday, 19 July 2018