Did you know last week had a “National Merry-Go-Round Day”? I’m not kidding, a “carousel historian” coined July 25th as that a few years back.
In my experience, a lot of business owners eventually find themselves stuck on a merry-go-round of sorts and that round-and-round thing can get pretty disheartening. I mean the ride not only lacks the thrills of a roller coaster, but you’re not going anywhere. Ever.
I find that many founders don’t take the opportunity to look at their “meta game” — the whole amusement park. Sure, the end product/service and customers may be interesting. But eventually, especially as a business grows, you get more and more detached from the end product as the routines and internal company issues start occupying a larger space in your head.
In other words, I’m pretty sure Walt Disney didn’t have to clean up every “protein spill” on the tea cups.
One of the biggest challenges of the “meta game” is routine — you have a lot of goals for your product/service, but why don’t you have any for your company itself? Indeed, if you’d like to break the routine and feel like you’re always moving forward, you need to start setting internal company goals.
We’ve developed this idea here at Less Doing that we call, “days to departure”. We track how many day’s notice we need to give one another before going on vacation. There’s no hard and fast rule, but most companies seem to require at least two week’s notice.
At Less Doing, we strive for one day.
If you think about it, demanding at least a fortnight’s notice and a subsequent, massive review process is pretty archaic. There are enough tools out there today that the average person’s job should be less about holding context or performing a necessary skill, and more about owning a particular goal and keeping the stakeholders in check. This is especially true for primarily digital businesses.
If an employee has to go offline for awhile, why would you need two weeks to get your ducks in a row? Why, in this day and age, as a digital facing business, is a 2-week absence from an employee so crippling that you need to roadmap so far in advance?
The short answer is complacency.
Too much attention is placed on anticipatory planning, and less on resiliency. A company that demands its employees give months notice for a week’s vacation is not one that’s built to withstand the rapidly changing tides of the industry. If one engineer going offline for a few days requires a quarter’s worth of planning, how are you going to deal with an economy that’s more chaotic than it’s ever been?
You can extend this same idea to your employees leaving. The industry standard is 2 weeks — two weeks?! Companies essentially rely on an employee sticking around (usually frivolously), followed by a manager or a founder taking over their jobs until the new hire is onboard. Often times that means several weeks of someone absorbing the person’s workload until there’s a replacement.
As controversial as this sounds, if you need to take over a departing person’s workload for more than 2 or 3 days, you’re doing something wrong.
If it takes you weeks of management before hiring an employee to take over a workload, it means you haven’t put in place the proper communication & workflow channels that can hold down the fort for a departing employee.
If you take the right steps to ensure that context is always shared, over communicated, and held evergreen in accessible places, while also preventing pigeon holing among your cross functional teams, then a departing employee should be able to leave immediately.
It’s obviously a high standard to set for yourself — but if you want to build a resilient organization that’s built to last, it’s a reasonable one. Stop relying on two weeks notice.
It’s so last year.