Business

The key to keeping your business up and running when you are short on staff

Are you short on staff at the moment? You’re not alone. Millions of business owners across the country are struggling to keep their businesses running while dealing with a large number of calls from their staff. While this will certainly make doing business more difficult, there is something you can start doing right now that will ease the burden on your team over the next few months and make it much easier to handle staff calls going forward.

Unlock staff knowledge

Traditional teams work by ensuring that each staff member has specific tasks or knowledge centers. Your accountant, for example, can manage your accounts payable and receivable and issue paychecks. And while normally this model works very well, it can become a bit of a hindrance if your accountant declares sick on the day payroll is due. You then either have to scramble to figure out the task yourself or try to reach the sick team member to find the necessary information.

But there is a better way. What if you had a folder on a shared drive that contained all of the tasks your accountant performs over the course of a month, along with written documentation and videos outlining the steps required to complete each task. Imagine being able to then hand those documents over to another member of the team knowing they had everything they needed to complete payroll on time. Now imagine that you could do this for every position in the company, including your own. Suddenly someone crying out sick is not such a stressful situation.

To start

I call this set of tasks and documentation a UBS or Ultimate Business System. Your UBS is a living and dynamic collection of best practices, contained in a user-friendly and searchable structure that your team can easily access, update, refine and supplement as they complete their tasks. We usually keep ours in a shared file system like Dropbox or Sharepoint.

Building a system will not happen overnight, but it will happen over time. Start by explaining the process to your team and ask them to start doing things for UBS as they do it over the next few months. When a new task or process appears, it should become standard practice for UBS when creating the process.

Here are some examples of areas where you would like to start UBS:

  • Sales / Lead conversion / Strategy

  • Marketing / Lead generation / Strategy

  • Operations / Production / Realization / Purchasing

  • Finances / Reports / Receipts / Accounts payable

  • HR / Recruitment / Onboarding / Benefits / Compliance / Exit process

Your UBS must grow with your business. As you hire new team members, have them create documentation for tasks and processes that may have been overlooked in the early stages. While they are in training, try to record the training sessions and keep them in a folder to use for future onboarding sessions. This will not only help you create a cohesive onboarding process for everyone, but also help you remember things that might get overlooked two or three hires later.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of Inc.com are theirs and not those of Inc.com.

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