Who’s Your First Mate on Staff?

staffThe captain of a boat always has a first mate. The commander of an army always has a second in command. One of the reasons behind this system is so someone is there to fill in the role, should the current leader no longer be able to perform his or her duties.

At Peake Media, we don’t have a system of captains or first mates. We’re a small company, so it takes a lot of collaboration from every team member to pull off what we do — a.k.a. three magazines and counting. With that said, slowly we’ve been realizing the necessity behind having a system in place for when, say, one of us goes to England for two weeks (yes, I’m leaving again).

I’m talking about a structure that lets us know who does what and when. And not so you can micromanage. But a structure that when someone needs to step into another role’s shoes, they can.

For instance, say you have a head Coach that suddenly leaves your Box without warning. This Coach had been in charge of programming, scheduling and the day-to-day tasks. They may have had jobs you used to do, but you haven’t performed in a long time.

Sure, you could take all of that responsibility back on, but your business and own day-to-day tasks are going to suffer. Plus, are you aware of all the extra stuff they were doing? You have quite a few Coaches to keep track of after all.

Those captains and commanders do something smart: They train and prepare someone to take on their role. They teach and make sure someone understands everything the leader is doing. That way, if a whale suddenly ingests the captain or the commander decides to retire and live in Bermuda, the ship or the army is not left without a leader.

So, maybe it’s time to transition your staff from a group of people who work together to a system of mentoring and teaching. Maybe it’s time to sit down with each of your Coaches and write down exactly what he or she is doing at your Box. Time consuming perhaps, but it’ll be worth it when it’s time for your own European vacation.

Whether you like it or not, you have to think ahead. I’ve had to plan for my trip, teach people how to do tasks while I’m away and even prepare emotionally to leave (something I’ll go into in a later blog). But the time has been well spent, because I can board the plane with confidence that Box Pro is in good hands.

Heather Hartmann
Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.