David died on Monday.
He was 35 years old, had a wife, and suffered a massive heart attack. David worked with me at ON THE RIGHT TRACK for over eight years as my virtual assistant, and he is the longest-serving team member here. He was the machine behind the scenes of much of what we do here, and he did it very well.
We are unbelievably sad. I can’t imagine what his wife and family are experiencing. 35 is too young to die. I miss him already.
This has been absolutely devasting on many levels. On the business level, I don’t know how to do David’s job. No one does. We can gather together and do bits of it, but some things aren’t going to get done. Some things we won’t even know they aren’t being done until something gets noticed.
I’m not particularly eager to micromanage. I trust my team members. I need them. I teach and preach leadership. My goal is to create a self-managing company, and that means that I do my job, and they do theirs. That is working quite well here.
This means when something goes wrong with one of my team members, no one is really able to step in and cover.
I still love the idea of a self-managed work team. A team that knows what to do and how to do it, but I realize that there needs to be systems in place to step in when something goes wrong.
If something happened to you, what would your company do? If something happened to your executive/boss, what would happen to you and the rest of the team? Would things get done, would the company know what needed to be done and how to get them done?
Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Passwords. We need to be able to access everything that David did, including all the websites he signed into, his voice mail password, his email password. David updated the website with our different webinars, accessed our database program, etc. We need to be able to continue to do those things and need access to anything he had access to. We don’t have his laptop, so any computer saved passwords are no good to us.
Fortunately, we did have a record of those. Since we all like to work autonomously, we have to give each other access to all of these. By having a list of passwords, it saved us regular time from email each other and saying, “What is the password for WordPress?”
While you may not need the password to your executive’s voice mail or email (because your IT department can take care of that), you may need passwords for their work mobile phone, their frequent travel accounts (airline, hotel), and access to their calendar to ensure appointments can be canceled and rescheduled. Not only do you need to have access to them, someone needs to have access to yours. Are they listed with someone or in a place that can be accessed if something happens to you?
2. Procedural Instructions. Now that we know how to sign into WordPress, what are the steps required to update a page? We all need to know how to do things. If you work for a large enough company, there is likely someone in the office who can do (more or less) what you do to ensure things get done. What about those tasks that you are the only one who can do them? Are instructions written down “just in case?”
What about your executive’s responsibilities? Even if the company is a large company, there might not be anyone who knows how to do their job. It might be hard to get them to write down instructions, but basic guidelines are needed.
3. Deadlines. Since we’ve been dealing with the loss of David and the panic it has created for us, I started to wonder what would happen if we lost other members of our team. Warren is our accountant. While I can hire another accountant to input books, what I don’t know is when our tax payments are due. I don’t know how much time is required to process payroll. I don’t know what we’ve pre-paid or what is owed to us.
Do you know your executive’s deadlines for deliverables? Would you be able to sound the alarm saying, ‘This needs to get done today so that we can deliver X on time!”?
Does anyone know your deadlines? What do you need to have completed so that others can get your job done?
4. Task Lists. I know that many of the tasks that David does won’t be visible to us until someone tells us they are missing something, or something else can’t get done. We are going to be working reactively for a while until we learn to work proactively.
We do have a list of tasks that David did. We don’t necessarily know how to do them, but we do know they need to be done. At the moment, we are sharing those tasks that are a necessity (and appear on the task list).
I’m hoping that to all my clients; there won’t be any noticeable change without David. I know that for the rest of the team, there is a gaping hole where David was. I know that everyone will be understanding and compassionate.
The good news is that we can manage. It won’t be easy, and it certainly is sad, but we can manage it.
If something happened to you or your executive, would your company manage?