Don’t Lead Alone

It’s amazing how much business knowledge exists in the head of the business owner. The only problem is that oftentimes that is the only place the knowledge exists. The knowledge and history of vital business decisions and strategies are locked up inside. Now, as long as the owner is around, this approach will work.

However, life doesn’t always work out the way we want. Should an accident, illness or even something as beneficial as some time off, take the owner away from the business, then there are potential catastrophes that are waiting to happen. Or, if not catastrophes, just things that are going to make it that much more difficult for the people looking after things.

Many owners, and department managers too, have contingencies for a variety of probabilities. There are plans in place for inclement weather. Strategies devised for fire and flood. Employees are cross-trained to pick up the slack if one is absent for extended periods of time. And of course, policies aplenty for any and all potential IT failures.

Yet, so much of what the boss is doing is kept top secret. And therein lays the problem.

As a business owner, think about the things that you are doing. On what projects are you working? Are there plans that you are developing that anyone else knows about. If you were to be absent from the business tomorrow for the next fourteen days, would things be able to carry on?

A few things to think about if you have answered no to any of these questions. First, identify who you would like to run the business in your absence, and then make sure that he or she is up-to-date on the major issues within the organization. Also, ensure that you have designated who will be able to make key decisions in your absence, and that they know which the key decisions are.

Communicate what the contingency plan is to trusted staff members regarding prolonged and unexpected absences. Identify those areas that can function well without much assistance from you, and also those that will need tending. Your staff won’t be able to do everything, but if you can focus them on the vital tasks, your absence will be less likely to disrupt your business.

Besides your staff, also think about your customer relationships. Encourage relationships between customers and other staff so that they know that the business is more than just you. Customers might head off to the competition if they think that the company can’t carry on without you. Consider how you can make the transition seamless for customers. You want their trust in your company, not just you.

Don’t keep your organizational knowledge a trade secret. By empowering your employees to continue on in the case of any emergency will strengthen your business and allow you the freedom to take some time off, whether planned or unplanned.

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