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Does your business have a single point of failure?



Managing

By Gerald Chait

Often in technology circles you will hear the term ‘single point of failure’ to describe networks or applications that have an ‘individual’ element that, if it fails, would result in the whole system malfunctioning. Highly reliable systems and networks are one’s that ensure there is no single point of failure.

A friend of mine is currently facing a dilemma. A key staff member has resigned and he knows his business will suffer as a result of her departure. He admits he should have planned better for this circumstance but put simply, he didn’t.

A critical person to any business isn’t necessarily the best paid person, in my friend’s case the employee looks after administration and has been in the position for a number of years. He’s particularly concerned because her role is responsible for ensuring payments and bookings are processed daily, and unfortunately no other staff member understands the role well enough to easily fulfill those critical business tasks.

So, what’s he going to do?

First, he needs know what are the single points in his business are that could potentially ‘de-rail’ his plans if they stop functioning. If his business has a non-process driven or a non-collaborative culture he is likely to find several points.

Secondly, he needs to determine the best way to get staff working together and sharing information. It is crucial to have a team that trusts each other and that trust needs to also come from the manager. A team without trust will be uncertain how their work will be perceived by others, feel their work will be changed without them knowing or may even feel uncertain that their position is secure.

It’s important for my friend not to be tempted to try and change employee behaviour overnight. He might need consider forming better habits himself, and he might also ask his staff how they feel better information sharing can be achieved. Job sharing, cross selling and job rotation may be useful ways to ensure the ‘points of failure’ no longer exist.

It’s worth noting that with the GFC now behind us, employees who have stayed in the same position for a number of years will be more confident to seek new opportunities. While staff retention strategies are important some staff will move on regardless.

Does your team have some ways to share information? How do you encourage staff to keep up good habits?