Preparing Your Back-Up for Success
We’ve all heard the saying “what if they get hit by a bus tonight?” As bleak as it may sound, one thing that the current status of the world has taught us is that we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Providing your back up with a clear plan and guide on how to perform your tasks will not only prove beneficial to your back up but also yourself upon your return. Giving your back up clear documented instruction and useful tips will take out the “guessing game” frustration they would have to go through to fulfill your duties in your absence; in turn leaving you with less to clean up upon your return.
Coworker Backup Strategies: Where to Begin
A good place to start is by creating a document or workbook that can referenced and followed by the person performing your duties while you are out. This document should begin with a brief description of your day to day and over-arching activities. Do not assume that the person filling in for you will already know this information. The person could be someone within your organization familiar to process, a new associate or an outside contractor completely unfamiliar on all fronts of your company, position and responsibilities.
In this section of your document you’ll want to focus on your main responsibilities that you take care of in order for you to perform your duties. One way to help you identify these “main” tasks is by asking yourself the question “If I am not here and no one performs X, Y or Z, what will that impact be to our department or organization?” If the answer to that question involves processes not being completed so another colleague is at a standstill to their duties, or the organization itself will suffer disruption, these responsibilities need to be included and prioritized. Noting any recurring duties that are not necessarily part of your day to day (i.e. Month end close, Quarter end reconciliation etc…) is helpful, especially since you may not know when or how long you will be absent from your position.
Delving into Details for Your Employee Backup Plans
After a lay of your land has been documented it is time to delve into the details. You want to be sure when defining your steps you use language that is straightforward as you to not lose or confuse anything in translation. Taking your time when explaining tasks, especially those with various steps is crucial. Screenshots and hyperlinks commonly used will put your back up at a great advantage. The less they need to rely on others to help with knowledge gaps the more productive and successful the venture will be for all parties.
Similarly to your responsibilities debrief and step by step documentation, providing your person with your Key Contacts will add greatly to their independence performing your duties in your absence. There are times when an answer can be given quickly when the correct resource is utilized. Often, time is wasted trying to find “who” knows the answer – a clear directive on where to start is greatly beneficial. There is no need to share your entire professional contacts folder. Narrowing your list could be as simple as asking the question “Who would I reach to in a time of need?”
These contact persons can be an internal or external resources but be sure you have made them aware they may be contributing time to your project plan. Unsolicited emails often go unanswered because the sender is often unrecognized. This list of key contacts can be a great cheat sheet for the person filling your shoes, giving them confidence that support is available if needed.
Having files saved and organized on shared drives for easy accessibility is also imperative. Many of us get in to the day to day habit of saving our files for our own personal retrieval. Creating a shared folder containing historical reports and documentation will help to provide examples and reference points to data already committed. In addition to this shared space being beneficial to your back-up, upon your return you will know exactly where to go to find work completed in your absence.
Keeping your work space organized may seem like a smaller insignificant detail however it is one I would not overlook. Often when a resource is engaged to assist, especially if this resource is a third party contractor, the person that is being back filled for, their workspace becomes shared workspace between the two. As general practice be sure to secure all confidential files daily before you depart. The last thing you would want is sensitive information falling on the wrong eyes and into the wrong hands.
The Importance of Planning, Preparation, and Unification
Last, any well executed endeavor begins with solid planning, followed by preparation and solidified by unification. Enlisting your team or department to prepare similar documentation and procedures for their duties, as well as cross training within your organization will help in the long run with these types of staffing gaps, eliminating the need for outside consultation, which can become very expensive on the back end.
As mentioned before, we plan for tomorrow every day but none of us are truly certain what that day will bring when it arrives. Operating in a space of “what if’s” can be staggering however having a plan in the event of that what if is liberating. NeoSystems offers a full range of HR and Payroll services to take care of your business challenges, both now and in the future. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary assessment of your documentation processes.