ISO 27001: Gaining Employee Buy-In During Cybersecurity Implementation

ISO 27001: Gaining Employee Buy-In During Cybersecurity Implementation

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The implementation of ISO 27001 involves a Senior Management Team (SMT) who are committed to the goals and agree fully that the Information Security Management System (ISMS) provides benefits to the organization which may include: a market position enhancement, a lower risk of disruption in business, and an overall boost in the body of work’s compliance with legal requirements. 

For employees, however, a new system or practice being introduced to the workplace could be perceived as additional tasks to be completed, as well as, a hindrance to their daily work routine. The term internal buy-in means the ability of your employees to accept new implementations given by the management. A lack of internal buy-in is a key factor for failure of a new system being put in place. 

Benefits of internal buy-in 

Demonstrating what employees can gain from the change in system is key to a successful transition. Outlining the benefits, which include an increase in stability of the organization, as well as a decrease in disruption of the business, will make it easier for employees to buy into the changes required by an Information Security Management System, instead of trying to repel the changes. This action will make employees easier to manage in the transitional phase. 

 How to obtain a universal buy-in within your organization 

Change is difficult to implement; hence, management must take sufficient steps to ensure transition proceeds as smoothly as possible. Providing lectures, training, and seminars about how employees can benefit from the introduction of ISO 27001 would be a good start. Giving employees the space to voice concerns and inquiries and answering them will provide an honest and transparent environment that will make them trust the change more. Involving the employees, as well as the management team, in the process of development will allow employees to provide more information and concerns on the matter, as well as to become familiarized with the initial, as well as, gradual changes throughout the entire process. Adding content, such as, trivia or games during the process can also foster a light environment where people can be at ease and become more comfortable with the system changes. 

 Provide employees reasons to participate 

Employees must be an important part of the process, as members need to buy-in for the implementations to take full effect. That is why it is important for employees to know the possible consequences if they do not participate. Note that there is a difference between a scare tactic and solidly provided guidelines/expectations. Providing disciplinary procedures for non-compliance, ensuring understanding by the staff of the different guidelines involved, as well as being clear in the communication process on what is expected of the staff will help your organization achieve the utmost results possible. 

 Setting an example 

Embedding an ISMS within an organization’s body of work is an important part of growth and improvement. Senior management must take the lead in ensuring that they themselves follow the changes and guidelines that are implemented. Failure to comply with changes, by means of forgetting or showing that these new changes can be a cumbersome hindrance to everyday work routines, will provide a clear visual to employees that the new changes are ineffective, even for the managerial staff. Leading by example is the way to solve this. Some ways to set a positive example include, having senior management provide a constant line of communication, management participating as early as possible in the process, and providing training sessions on how management should demonstrate order throughout the implementation process. 

Through proper communication with employees, leading by example from senior management, and drawing up clear and definitive expectations for everyone involved, the likelihood of a buy-in to take effect is increased significantly. Just remember that all members of the organization must take part for the changes to fully set in. This means creating an environment that includes the employees in the transition process, rather than just simply issuing orders. Ensuring that a buy-in is successful increases the chances of implementing an effective and comprehensive Information Security Management System.


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