Marcie’s great, isn’t she? She does all the ordering, pays all the bills, fixes the printers, and seems to be the only one who can get that old safe to open.
Then, without warning, Marcie’s gone, and she’s not coming back. That would be #8 on our killer’s list, Loss of a Key Employee.
“Key” has nothing to do with seniority, and may more often refer to someone who doesn’t have a high profile in your company. What they do have is knowledge that you may never be able to replace. And while you’re trying to open the safe to make the deposit to pay the bills, no one is attending to your customers.
- Create a failsafe system for passwords: No one in a business environment should have sole access to critical systems. Assign someone to maintain a master list of all passwords; and think beyond computers, to include phones, alarm systems, credit card accounts. Ensure that the list is updated regularly and that a copy is passed to a second person.
- Cross-train employees on business critical systems: Your bookkeeping system is a great example. This is where you create invoices, receive payments, receive invoices and make payments; all of which is critical to staying in business. If the one person who knows how to use the system (or the password!) was gone, how long would it take you to get back on track? If you have any custom built software, be very afraid. So, make sure you have a backup person. Train them on the basics and make sure they can at least access the system if you have to call in a professional.
- Talk to your bank about low risk contingencies: Basic business banking, like making deposits, is getting more difficult. Cash deposits, in particular, may not be accepted from someone the bank staff is unfamiliar with. Find out if you can add account representatives for deposits and inquiries, without giving them full signing authority. Make sure at least two people do have that authority though.
- Identify unique knowledge and share it: Marcie probably takes great pride in being the only one who can fix those quirky printers and open the old safe. Be sure to thank her appropriately for her dedication while you learn her secrets. Write them down, even though you hope you never have to use them.
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