Between COVID-19 and the typical summer slow down, offices are emptier than they’re ever been. With team members taking some much-needed time off, it’s important to know how your team will be affected. Here are some tips to help your teams function during this time of flux.
It’s important to know who you can count on in a crisis, but what happens if that person gets sick or needs to tend to their children or loved ones? It’s critical during times of upheaval that you can function in the event of team members needing to take PTO or sick leave. This means you’ll need to determine who your SPOFs (single points of failure) are. If this person needs to take a day, or perhaps even a week off, what context will you miss?
At Google, teams practice an exercise called the “Wheel of Staycation” to ensure that SPOFs are discovered prior to a crisis situation. In previous talks, Dave Rensin has also spoken on how to implement this exercise in your organization. In a nutshell, once a week, a single person from your team is selected to get a ‘staycation’ where they are unable to communicate with the rest of the team.
Eliminating SPOFs is important after completing the exercise. To do this, you’ll need to track the asks that your staycation team member received in one day. You could do this by setting up a staycation slack channel where all questions you would have asked your teammate are listed. Or you could simply tell your team to ask those questions via email or slack to your stay-cation teammate as usual and have that person create a list when they come back from their stay-cation. Then, the staycation teammate should be required to make sure all the context and key information the team needed is baked into process docs or confluence pages, so the SPOFs are eliminated.
This method should be practiced as a preventative initiative. According to Dave, “There are other things you can do, but the only way you can discover things like expertise SPOFs or information SPOFs is to regularly and routinely exercise them before the emergency shows up.”
If you wait too long, you’ll only spot SPOFs when it’s a true emergency, at which time it’ll be too late.
Knowing and eliminating SPOFs is key during any crisis, but it is especially important when staffing reductions come into play. These reductions can be for business or financial reasons, or due to decreased cognitive capacity as people deal with personal matters (anxiety, family needs, health challenges, etc.). Either way, you will need to be able to adapt to these reductions and make adjustments to your continuity plans. Here are three crucial steps to working through this challenge:
While all of these things are easier said than done, they are a good starting point for pivoting in this new reality.
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