Situation: The CEO of a small company is concerned that the loss of a key individual could seriously impact operations. Alternatives include adding an assistant to the affected department or cross training another individual who could serve as a short-term back-up in case of an absence of 2 weeks or more. How do you mitigate temporary loss of personnel?
Advice from the CEOs:
- In cases like the current pandemic, planning for multi-week personnel absences is essential. Though systems are documented, subtleties of key jobs may not be documented. This is where cross-training becomes an important alternative.
- Train another employee as a backup for the person in question and refresh the training every 2-3 months. If the company runs into an emergency due to short or longer-term loss of an individual, hire a replacement for the individual and have the individual who is cross-trained train the replacement.
- Have the key individual and the individual who is cross training refine the ISO 9000 documentation as the key employee trains the back-up individual. This will assure that ISO 9000 documentation is being updated regularly.
- Establish a plan with appropriate procedures that all positions must have a back-up. Include this within the company’s personnel procedures.
- Rewarding the key individual with a bonus for selecting and training his or her back-up is the wrong thing to do. It’s both the wrong incentive and the wrong reward. Training a back-up is an essential part of each key employee’s job, not a special task that deserves separate recognition or reward.