The Balancing Act of Issues Management in Large Organizations

Managing issues for a large organization comes with one particular challenge that you might recognize. 

You’re always tempted to keep sensitive issues confined to a small circle of only yourself and your most experienced staff. But if you do that, you and your people are going to burn out. 

Managing issues is stressful, and doubly so when you’re the first person everyone turns to for all the thorniest issues. 

This isn’t a sustainable approach. 

The bigger your organization or company, the more important it is to be able to spread the issues-management work around. A bottleneck at the director level will only slow down responses to even relatively routine issues. That can negatively impact your organization’s reputation and cause unnecessary stress for everyone on the team. 

It can also be costly. As issues pile up and you have no backup, you’re forced to hire more experienced people at high salaries. Meanwhile, all your more junior staff are confined to their usual roles, when really they ought to be gaining experience with less complex issues work that forces them to stretch a bit. 

You need to decentralize issues management, but getting more people involved brings with it some challenges: 

  • You’re still ultimately responsible, so how do you maintain oversight? 
  • How does everyone know who’s working on what? 
  • How do you make sure all essential stakeholders are looped in? 
  • How do you maintain consistent messaging over time when team members come and go, but the same issues keep resurfacing? 

The foundation of effective issues management in large organizations is a robust organizational structure. I encourage you to set up a dedicated issues management team with some redundancy built in. Make sure it includes communications specialists who can take on lighter issues that require relatively straightforward counsel. 

With that structure in place, it’s time to turn to systems. 

You need systems that can help you quantify the workload while giving central issues leaders line of sight into all issues great and small, including new ones that are just emerging. This is particularly important if you aren’t sure you are properly resourced to manage the onslaught. Anecdotal observations can only take you so far. 

Some teams use all-purpose tools like Google Sheets for this, but a Google Sheet can become quite sprawling and cumbersome for a large organization that handles a lot of issues. And it’s far from secure. You want to decentralize smaller issues so your core people don’t get buried, but you don’t want everyone looking at your dirty laundry on a shared Google sheet. 

We designed Broadsight Tracker to be that secure space where you can easily share messaging and documents with the right people and have full control over access. You’ll be able to spread the issues work around while still retaining oversight and assigning the appropriate level of confidentiality to each item. 

If you’ve just begun decentralizing issues-management work, you’re doing the right thing. It may feel like you’re giving up control, but you don’t have to be nervous about it—you just have to be thoughtful. The right team coupled with a solid tool will help you distribute the workload more efficiently, maintain consistency in messaging, and protect sensitive information all while fostering an environment conducive to your staff’s professional growth.