Summer has arrived and with it the summer holidays. Kids are off school and the long summer stretches out in front of us. The beach, lake and mountains await and with them the opportunity to put down that laptop and ignore the e-mails whilst you sip a frozen cocktail in the swimming pool.
Sounds great doesn’t it, except that it is not true. Unless you have amazing self discipline, or you simply forgot to pack your smart phone, you will be unable to resist the temptation to have a quick peek at your e-mails every so often. And, once you have seen something interesting, then you will be literally unable to stop yourself intervening with an authoritative message from wherever you are in the world. Our always connected world has its drawbacks as well as its advantages!
Even worse, there may actually be a work event that requires the attention that only you as MD, Director or Vice President can give it. Perhaps an employee misconduct issue, or a data breach, a health and safety event or a critical IT failure. Like it or not (you probably do like a bit too much!), sometimes you are irreplaceable.
But, actually you are almost certainly not as irreplaceable as you think. Most disruptive events in your business can actually be perfectly competently handled by someone else, your boss, your deputy or even your colleague. Imagine a state of holiday nirvana, where you can safely ignore your e-mails and relax knowing that most things can be handled and if they really need you they will be able to get your attention. Believe me, it is achievable, and all it needs is a bit of advance planning.
Firstly, you want to make sure that your colleagues are in a position to handle most foreseeable eventualities without you. This is otherwise known as “business continuity planning”. Identify the things that are most likely to go wrong and agree a series of action plans to respond to all of those events, making sure that each of them contains a number of alternative names to yours. Then make sure that the action plans can be easily accessed when you are not there, i.e. hosted in the cloud rather filed in your locked cabinet or on your personal One Drive folder.
Secondly, put in place a multi-channel communications tool that includes SMS, voice calls and push notifications, as well as e-mail, only to be used in real emergencies. There are a number of such tools on the market, but one that is aimed specifically at small businesses is Crises Control, with a monthly subscription model.
Do this, then you can sit back, sip that cocktail and ignore your e-mail and WhatsApp groups completely, secure in the knowledge that if the team does need to raise you they will be able to cut through all of the rubbish and get your attention.