MANAGING 101: In Sickness and in Health

Contingency plans are so important when the annual flu epidemic hits the city!

Suddenly the manager is sick, his second-in-command is sick, half of the factory workers have called in sick, yes really! They all present medical certificates on their return so you know that it is for real. Productivity drops. Phones go unanswered as the receptionist goes home in a taxi half way through the day. Then the boss gets sick. Disaster! All meetings are cancelled, new contracts are put aside and masks come out so that the air conditioning does not infect the rest of the staff.

It is very important to have a back-up plan to do other things at this time. It may be a stock-take, repairs, a general clean or a re-assessment of systems. A total clean-up of junk-mail, unwanted emails, and most importantly checking the back-up systems for the computer. On the factory floor or at the transport depot staff can critically examine how things are placed, because many times there is junk to be disposed of, and easier ways to site machinery to enhance systems and productivity.

Everyone (who is left!) can put forward ideas which will be beneficial to the company. Sometimes slowing down gives people time to think, time to work out better ways of doing things. It may be a good time to service vehicles and machinery, or to call in quotes for an alternative truck or utility which may, over a two year period cost less than holding onto an old one. The same goes for old costly heating units, phone systems on lease which stacked up against new phones could save megabucks.

Arrangements should be put in place to find alternative labour arrangements. If there are trucking contracts that have to be filled and half of your drivers are ill, meetings with temporary hire agencies should be held before the flu season so that there is confidence in that agency, and you can simply order staff at short notice.

The same goes for medical replacements. Again, there are good agencies who will have doctors, radiologists and specialists of all kinds ready and willing to take over when you are short-staffed. No matter what industry you are in, simple planning ahead is the way to go.

So, once this winter, its chills and sickie time is over put your thinking cap on and work out a back-up plan for the next time around. And of course, most importantly, always work well within deadlines so that you make allowances for things to go wrong, both in sickness and good health.