As a Business Owner, you are responsible for the direction and growth of your company, as well as establishing the systems and procedures that will keep it operating smoothly, in order to ensure your ongoing success and profitability. You must also be confident that your staff “knows what they are doing,” operates at peak efficiency, and that their overall productivity, as well as the quality of their work, keeps your company competitive in the marketplace.
But let me ask you, do you know what Susan knows? (Huh?! What are you talking about, you say!)
Organizations with long-term employees that have accumulated their knowledge over time, and who tend to work very autonomously, may have a serious gap between what a specific employee knows, as compared to everyone else in the company. And that could ultimately be a problem seeing that although Susan might be extremely loyal and trustworthy, she could fall ill, need to relocate, decide to change jobs or any of the other myriad reasons that can lead an employee to terminate his or her position, even one in which they are highly regarded and considered to be a “fixture” in the company. If you have a few employees like “Susan”, this could change the landscape of your business.
Here’s how Business Owners can protect themselves against this type of disruption:
Develop a comprehensive cross-training program so that your employees can assume the responsibilities of other team members whether on a short or long-term basis. The cross-training will also enable your employee to better collaborate and can lead to increased employee motivation and retention.
Create a procedures manual that details the tasks and responsibilities of all of the employees in the company, making certain that the information and instructions about specific processes and operations does not remain in someone’s brain, but is available and can be disseminated to other employees as required.
Schedule team meetings in which employees are asked to “educate” their co-workers on their specific areas of responsibility and how they execute their work.
The employee that was cross-trained should take over the position at least once per month; this makes certain that the tasks remain current in the mind of the employee and that they will be able to execute the job effectively.
It’s important to include “Susan” in the planning stages so that they do not become insecure about sharing their “keys to the kingdom,” and understand that having other employees comprehend more fully the different aspects of their position doesn’t diminish their value.
You probably know someone that lost a key employee and suffered greatly until everyone else could “figure out” what their work encompassed. Don’t let that happen to you!