My father had a stroke last week. Thankfully at almost 83 this is one of the first serious ailments that he has had in an otherwise healthy life. However, observing the debilitating effects and chaos that a serious illness can have on a person and one’s family, made me understand the need for leaders to have plans in place to be prepared for Calamity. The pandemic has led to many more businesses and their leaders understanding the need for disaster planning as a result of outside influences, regrettably there are many leaders who are not prepared for personal catastrophe.
A personal catastrophe could destroy an otherwise healthy organization in a relatively short
period of time. Think about what would happen to your business if you or a close family
member had a debilitating stroke, if you were in a car accident and hospitalized, or perhaps the victim of a serious crime. In some cases, business owners have a team that would step up and cover. Often however, many businesses revolve around the owner. The owner is the hub and spoke of the business. Customers requests, staffing issues, and almost every decision needs to pass through them in order for the company to move forward. In organizations where the leader is the center of activity, there can be serious challenges when they are not available.
As leaders when we create an organization that can’t function without us, we are neglectful of
our duty. So, what can we do about it? Here are 3 things you need to do to prepare for
1. Create Standard Operating Procedures or SOP’s. These are processes that are followed to ensure that the company gets consistent results each and every time that job is completed. Recently I was working with an IT Services company out of New Jersey who was looking to grow. It was determined that one of the things holding the company back was that many of the IT clients were handled haphazardly by the Tech’s and that the head technician was responsible for ensuring the gold standard was kept. Unfortunately, the head tech couldn’t do his job because he was constantly interrupted by junior technicians who didn’t understand how to do their job and get consistent results. Once we documented the procedures the stress level and the interruptions dropped. What’s more, if anything happened to the head technician, the operation would be able to run smoothly without him for a period of time. Having pre-thought written detailed instructions of what should take place in certain situations including disaster, reduces your need to worry when un-expected events happen.
2. Have Plans for Delegating Authority. Early on in my career, when I was working for one of my mentors, Louis Matte, he opened a gas station and feed store. The business was open 24/7 and had a considerable number of workers. In order to determine who was in charge on any given shift, Louis created a pecking order. The higher you were up on the list, the more responsibility you had. The person with the highest level of responsibility on any given shift was the person in charge who could make the decisions. As leaders our team wants to know who can make the decisions if we are not able to show up for days or weeks at a time. Delegating this authority and making it clear to your team will enable your team to move forward if you are not there and empower emerging leaders to step up in times of disorganization.
3. Ensure your business is viable or profitable. It’s one thing to have a business that runs without you, it's another to have a business that can be profitable without the owner. While leaders in larger organizations might not have to worry so much about this, there are some other key performance indicators that their departments need to hit. Understanding how we measure and achieve success to ensure our viability needs to be communicated to our support team with a clarity for them to comprehend the importance of achieving our goals. When our organizations success is wholly dependent on our ability to keep focused, we have a problem that is compounded if we cannot drive those needed results. Getting your key staff engaged in ensuring your profitability or viability is paramount to you and your company surviving catastrophic events.
While we can never know what will happen in the future and we can hope that nothing
unfortunate will befall us, our key team members, or our families, unfortunately calamity does sometimes strike when we least think it might. I am sure my father never woke up thinking that the left side of his body might not work in a few hours, no stroke victim usually does. However, being prepared for disastrous situations by putting in place some simple plans can ensure that your company can succeed in times of trouble without you. Once you have taken the steps to be organized, your team will appreciate the fact that they understand that you care enough about them to give foresight to a time you might not be readily available. Everyone will sleep better as a result.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an Award-Winning Business Coach and the author of the book “Profit
Yourself Healthy”. Have questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org