By Blair Williams, founder of the WordPress membership plugin MemberPress and affiliate program plugin Easy Affiliate.
Good management involves preparing for the unexpected. And a sign of good management is when a manager or business leader is able to step away from work without the business falling apart at the seams.
There are many reasons why a leader could be absent from work. Business leaders need time off like anyone else. They need to attend seminars and be away for meetings at other locations. At times, unexpected personal reasons or environmental issues can create a situation in which the business needs to resume usual operations without the leader being available.
Let’s take a look at ways that you can set up your business to manage an unexpected absence. A documented and sensible plan will let your employees know what to do and the business can carry on with few problems.
It’s normal for a business to lose track of its documentation process along the way. However, it is important to create time to document your work processes as much as possible.
One of the reasons that a business may avoid documenting important workflows and business details is because they focus too much on perfection. But remember, it can be more helpful to draft anything rather than have no documentation at all.
At the most basic level, you need to write down and record your own daily work and make it accessible to different people in your organization. This can be on a need-to-know basis and shared with people who are leaders and hold positions of authority.
Share your why.
It often isn’t enough to document processes. There will be times when your employees will come across unusual situations in which they need to make a decision. They’ll need to figure out what to do on their own without taking your business in the wrong direction.
As a leader, you need to share your business’s purpose or its reason to be — its “why.” For a clearer understanding of this, I recommend reading Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why.”
When you communicate your business’s values, you help people understand the fundamental reasons that drive all your decision-making. This gives people much-needed insights and helps them stay on the right path.
For example, in my business, we focus on customers’ needs above anything else. It drives our product development, customer service and more. As a result, our team members find it easier to fulfill their jobs.
Let’s look at a few ways you can share your why, or at least how we do it in our business.
• We have internal seminars at which knowledge is shared.
• I share a monthly email where I explain some insights and ideas I have that I believe can help our team.
• Leaders on our team share their knowledge via Slack and in conversations.
It’s through constant sharing of purpose that people will understand what to do even when there’s an extended period of time when a leader is absent.
Deliberately take time off.
One of the steps you can take to check that people can manage unexpected absences is to take some time off for short periods of time.
Doing this creates a deliberate situation in which your team has the opportunity to run things on their own. During such “practice” situations, your employees can make note of things that didn’t work well. From this experience, you can discuss how to fix communication and other issues.
You’ll build a solid foundation for your business where everyone knows what their roles are and what to do during unexpected absences.
Over to you.
A good business should never rely on a single leader to stay afloat. Sometimes, unexpected events can happen such as an illness or some other personal event. In such cases, there needs to be a protocol for handling the absence of a leader.
In this post, I’ve shared a few tips that can act as a safety net for your business. By planning in advance, you can make sure that there’s a plan of action and that different teams and leaders know what to do at any time.