Planning for Staff Absences

I was asked recently for my thoughts on how to plan for unexpected events in business such as when key staff members resign, take annual leave or are injured and unable to work for an extended period of time.

I share my thoughts here for consideration.

A business can reduce its reliance on people by concentrating on defining the structure and processes for its operations.

With structure and processes clearly defined there is consistency in the delivery of your product or service, staff are able to make decisions and take actions confidently. Further, in the event of staff absences, other team members are able to step in and adopt their tasks.

Once you have defined and implemented your systems the key is to find the right people to follow those systems.

Finding the right people is a matter of matching their individual values and attributes with the values and culture of the organisation. Where a team member does not share the values of the organisation there will be tensions and frustrations from both management and the individual themselves. The organisation will suffer as a result of constantly needing to monitor the work and performance of the person potentially resulting in poor customer experiences and loss of time in micro management.

Under these circumstances, a team member who does not share the core values should be encouraged and supported to find a company which aligns with their values.

Gino Wickman, author of Traction: Get a Grip on your Business, states that for an employee to be a “right person” for a position they must Get it, Want it and have the Capacity to do it.

In the case where the right team member does not have the capacity I recommend they are either trained and mentored to fill their role, or are transferred to another role within the organisation which best suits their skills and capabilities.

To recap, a successful business focuses on structure and processes first. Implementing the structure ensures the business is not dependent upon any one person, and no person is irreplaceable.

Having the right people in the right roles will lead to your long term success.