Last week I attended a NASHRM luncheon called Growing and Buying Talent for Tomorrow, and it focused mainly on succession planning. I thought it sounded interesting, so I went to the lunch meeting. Little did I know that it would raise some interesting questions that I hadn’t considered before. Sure, you think about the usual reasons to plan for succession:
- what if person x leaves suddenly?
- what if person y retires?
- what if person z needs a defined career track to stay engaged?
But the thing that I stopped to seriously consider was the proverbial “getting hit by a bus” scenario.
I kid about it often at work as a way to emphasize the importance of documenting processes and the arcane knowledge tidbits that are floating around the brains of our engineers. “We need to write this down in case Bob gets hit by a bus” might sound silly, but it gives you a chilling visualization about how true it really is.
Maybe it’s a stress-related illness that puts the person out of work for a while. Maybe it’s a family illness and the employee needs to become the primary caregiver. Whatever the case, it needs to be something you consider. If you want to share the phrase to get a laugh, feel free, but understand the underlying implications and plan accordingly.
What would you do if one of your key people was “hit by a bus” and couldn’t work for you ever again? Would you survive? What would the cost impact be?
When I first started working at my current position, my boss showed me a network folder called “The Beer Truck Files”. Same premise as your “hit by a bus” scenario, the documents in said folder show everyone how to do certain mission-critical tasks in the even one of us is hit by a beer truck. Every month or two I go in and make sure the important processes I’m involved in are accurate.
A bit morbid? Yes. Is our name for it possibly inappropriate? Yes (not that I have any problem with it). Is everyone glad it exists? Absolutely.