Is Your Business Ready for Your Summer Vacation?
So you’re packing your bags in a few weeks? You’re team says they can handle it, but how do you know for sure? The heart of the summer is upon us and hopefully that means there is a vacation of some form on your calendar, even if it’s just an extended weekend. But before you turn the keys of your business over to your management/leadership team there are a few simple ways to predict how well your business is going to run while you’re away, in essence a leadership preparedness test.
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
Leadership is and always will be at the heart of most businesses. The closer you look at most successful companies the one common denominator they usually have is effective, respected, leadership at the top, and that shows up especially when the top leadership isn’t there.
We often hear about “people problems”, and sometimes companies do have a number of people in the wrong seats and sometimes they simply have the wrong people. But as we dig deeper, there often is a connection to leadership and ultimately the top rung on the leadership ladder is the owner or ownership team. Leadership is critical to business success and although it often feels intangible, it can be measured. Excluding uncontrollable events such as acts of nature or unforeseen economic turmoil the bottom line results of a business is one of the purest indicators of one’s ability to lead.
When you lead effectively you set the stage for the rest of the business, your employees, your customers, and yes that vacation! When all of those things come together, because of your leadership, the health of your business will be a shining beacon of your efforts.
Preparing for the vacation….
Here’s three simple ways to see if your team is ready to lead in your absence. Over the next week or so do each of these exercises with your management/leadership team….or whoever you are entrusting to be “where the buck stops” while you’re recharging your batteries.
#1: 3 for 3 – Same Page Test
What are the top 3 metrics/numbers that your management team should always have a pulse on? What should they be tracking and what kind of results are acceptable or unacceptable? Compare their list to your expectations. If they all match, congratulations, you passed Test #1. If they don’t your team is telling you they don’t know what you are expecting them to do. One of the biggest reasons employees pass off responsibility is they don’t understand what you really want them to do. Get everyone on the same page.
#2: Training the Trainers Test
If something happened to anyone of your key employees is there someone besides yourself who could step in and seamlessly fill that role? If you have anyone who is irreplaceable (including yourself) you’re putting your company at risk.
Depending on the size of your company having depth in different positions can be challenging, but the message is you must constantly be training. Cross-training is invaluable and working through employee vacations is one of the surest ways to emphasize its value. A simple way to start laying the ground work for this is to have each employee create a step-by-step manual defining what they do in their position. It creates great opportunities for discussion to improve processes, create a scalable model for growth, and insulate your business from unexpected events, a key employee leaving, or interrupting your vacation.
#3: Authority and Empowerment Test
After your next manager/staff meeting, where plans for the day, week, or project are discussed, start a timer and see how long your business can function without you having to provide additional input or make a decision. The rule is you can’t initiate any communication. If you can make it at least 24 hours, then you clearly have delegated some level of decision making duties to your employees/staff. The advanced version of this test will be how well it performs while you’re in Margaritaville!
Depending on your business size all three of these tests can be replicated with department managers and their employees. This is a great exercise to help reevaluate spending limits for purchased items, authority to grant warranty or sales discounts, granting employee’s time off, and any number of questions routinely channeled through upper management for approval. The inability to “let go” is one of the biggest obstacles that prevents a business from being able to grow and owner’s from taking time off. You can’t do everything and you shouldn’t if you want to grow sustainably.
So how ready is your business for your vacation? Is it ready to run without? Will your vacation be relaxing or excessive interruptions from the team back home? Empowering your team and preparing your business to run without you is more complicated than a 3 question test. But hopefully this creates some positive discussion with your team and sets the stage not only for a more relaxing vacation but a healthier business ready for seize other opportunities and challenges that present themselves. Enjoy your vacation! As always, please feel free to share your thought in the space below.
Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach