“I’ve Got A Good Team, But If One Of Them Leaves, That Would Create Disruption In The Business” (Lesson 4)

If your business is bringing in over $1 million in revenue and you are seeking to cross the $5 million goal, chances are you have at least a few employees. In fact, you may have anywhere from three to 15 employees.

You have great people in specific roles, so what happens if a key person in your business wins the lottery and exits your company? Do you have someone that can step up? Is your team cross-trained? Has your star person documented how they do their work that makes them so great at it?

While you may have hired your team, how does the day-to-day management of the team look for you? Do you have the systems and processes in place that are necessary to avoid disruptions if anyone on the team leaves?

Imagine you have assigned one employee to work on a crucial aspect of your product. Let’s say this person is responsible for putting the product together and getting it ready to ship. The tools they need to do their job well include everything to get a product ready for mailing, including the customer addresses.

This person is a great employee, loyal and hardworking. But the day comes when they call in sick. On the same day, you receive a dozen new orders to go out, pronto. Except your one employee in charge of shipping is now home sick, and they are the only person who knows how to do their job.

Does this sound familiar? The minute someone calls in sick, things start to fall through the cracks. Worse, what happens if that person quits, or you have to fire them? Would you be ready to onboard a new staff member the next day if your employee left and took all their knowledge with them?

Disrupt Or Be Disrupted

If you’ve been in this situation, you probably felt really vulnerable when that employee left. When an employee is the only person with all of the knowledge and tools to do their job, and there is no process documentation at all, you find yourself scrambling to both hire and then train a new employee.

This blind spot can also show up when you have customers becoming dependent on a specific employee. What’s really happening is the customer has a relationship with the employee rather than the company. Which means if you lose that employee, you’re likely to lose that customer. 

When all of the knowledge of how to do each task in your business is only in one person’s head, whether that head is yours or a key employee’s, you are setting the stage for increased feelings of resentment in the team. By not taking the time to train your employees and document your processes, you are creating a situation wherein you or that one employee are the only ones able to do all the work.

On the one hand, your team is resentful because they’re being excluded. On the other hand, you or your star employee don’t feel appreciated and instead feel like everything rests on your work. But it only looks like you or your star employee are doing all the work because you are the ones holding all of the information in your heads.

Whether it’s you holding all the knowledge or your employees, either way it’s limiting to the rest of the team. If you don’t transfer your knowledge to your employees, they won’t feel empowered. If your employees don’t document the knowledge they have, you’ll experience a big disruption when they leave.

Think of it this way: if you have five people on the team and one person leaves and takes all their knowledge with them (and you don’t have processes documented in place), then you’re losing 20% of the knowledge of your organization. That’s a big deal!

If you have no training material, or outdated training material, and you haven’t documented your processes, it’s increasingly difficult to measure the performance of your employees. How long does it take to onboard a new employee? Do you even have a process to do so?