All businesses experience change, which can happen for a variety of reasons. For small businesses, change can be especially difficult, as employees often have many responsibilities and, for that reason, it’s often hard to anticipate and plan for these changes when they occur.
One of the most common upheavals in the daily workings of a small business occurs when a member of the team departs: The more valuable the employee, the greater the loss – at least temporarily.
How can you be sure your small business will continue to thrive when a key player resigns or retires? Planning.
In the many jobs I’ve held over the years, my first day at a new company also is the first day I plan for my eventual departure. And, over time, as I’ve hired people, I’ve approached their roles in a similar fashion so there are no surprises – and minimal gaps – when they (eventually) move on.
Onboarding information, process information and manuals, and team org charts are just some of the items to keep in mind when planning for the next person in a particular role. All of these first-day items are last-day critical as well. It’s what happens in between that ensures a smooth transition when the time comes.
Here are some pointers to ensure continuity in your small business:
- Regularly update processes and manuals: Nothing is static in any business. When a process is updated, upgraded, or removed, ensure the documentation keeps pace.
- Contact information: Many businesses rely on key contacts, not just for sales but for business operations. Be sure your rolodex—whether electronic or sitting on your desk – is current. Set aside time monthly to review and update.
- Passwords and critical information: Make sure these operation-sensitive aspects are kept secure, so when someone leaves, the information stays.
- Off-boarding: A lot goes into bringing a new employee onboard. Be sure to allow the proper time and process for winding down someone’s time with your organization, too. Extend the courtesy of an exit interview; you’ll be amazed what this conversation could uncover. Also, be sure to collect relevant information from your soon-to-be former employee, including building IDs, company electronics, final expense reports, and critical project files.
By paying close attention to the details of a departing employee, you’ll not only safeguard your small business, you’ll ensure that things will continue to run smoothly.
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