Maybe it goes like this: your lead sales guy emailed you on Sunday evening, his father is in the hospital and he needs to fly out to Chicago for 4 days.
Or maybe it goes like this: your CTO’s baby was born two weeks early. She was planning on leaving a list of responsibilities and procedures behind, but never got around to it.
Or even worse: one of your employees quit unexpectedly.
Regardless – you’re in a pinch.
When employees are unexpectedly absent, or when employees quit, filling the void that they have leave behind can be a daunting (read: time/money consuming) task.
This is due to the fact that when an employee abruptly leaves, it’s common that the individual employee is the only one with a full understanding of their current priorities and responsibilities.
Managers and teams who are responsible for picking up the work left behind face a few high-pain challenges:
- There is no repository of employee priorities and thus no way to pick up where they left off
- The employee is likely out of contact so this information cannot be easily obtained
- If employee priorities are not tended to, valuable business can be lost
Whether your employee is out on vacation, sick leave, or sabbatical, Priority Matrix solves this problem.
In this blog post, we’ll explain how Priority Matrix remedies the pain when employees quit. We’ll also walk through how to handle the added workload of both short-term and long term employee absence.
Table of contents
When Employees Quit
When employees quit, managers are faced with the daunting task of onboarding a new employee, and handing off projects from the old team member to the new one.
On-boarding New Team Members
Each organization has its own process for onboarding new employees.
Often, the process is ad-hoc, which is Latin for “on the fly”. In business terms, this means “time consuming”.
It’s not uncommon to spend days or even weeks with onboarding logistics.
For painless implementation, we recommend creating a “custom template” in Priority Matrix.
Take a look at mine, below.
I re-use this template every time I hire a new marketing assistant. As they complete their onboarding activities / training, watch them check off each task. Once they’ve made it through the entire template, I know they’re ready to take on their first project.
Handing Over Projects
When mid-level employees join your organization, they’ll be ready to take over old projects without extensive training to bring them up to speed.
Priority Matrix facilitates this process in the following way:
- When a former employee keeps track of his or her projects in Priority Matrix, the remaining tasks in each project stay with the organization when they leave. In short, your employee doesn’t take the knowledge of the project with them.
- You can literally “hand over” the rest of a project to a new employee, with all priorities, due dates, and files kept intact. It’s as simple as delegating the project to your new hire.
Using the example of our “guest writer” series on the blog, let’s imagine my assistant Julia, who is currently in charge of this project, leaves Appfluence.
After hiring a replacement for her, I can add her replacement to the project.
The new responsible team member immediately has access to:
- The project background, goals, and priorities
- What’s currently in progress
- What’s left to be completed
- The project timeline
Sick Leave & Vacation
When employees get sick – there is usually little to no preemptive preparation that allows for another team member to step in and pick up the work they’ve left behind.
This can happen with vacation as well, as in the days leading up to vacation most employees attempt to tie up loose ends or become distracted at the oh-so-near prospect of kicking back on the beach.
Here’s how to make sure you don’t drop the ball on their important priorities while they’re out.
How to Manage Short-Term Absence
When using Priority Matrix, individuals organize their responsibilities based on a variety of factors such as:
- Priority Level
- Due Date
- Progress Level/Status
Typically, these responsibilities are split between a variety of projects. For our marketing manager, Kari, we can see that her priorities for the next month are split between SEO – Marketing – Managing Interns, based on her project list.
If we look inside a project, as we’ve done here, we can see that her top priority within that projects is getting our “Google + Page” up and running.
What’s more, using the Priority Matrix Master list, we can peek into Kari’s priorities across ALL of her projects. In the photo below, we’ve sorted the list to show Q1 activities – those that are critical AND urgent.
As a manager, or even a fellow team member, accessing this list allows us to do a few things:
- See exactly what work an employee has left behind while on leave
- Decide if the responsibilities left behind must be taken care of
- Delegate what needs attention to team members with available bandwidth
What’s more, when using Priority Matrix as a central location to store documents, due dates and communication relevant to each task, handing off tasks from one person to another is a one-click process.
Whoever becomes responsible for the task has all of the information they need to complete it at their fingertips.
Say goodbye to responsibilities slipping through the cracks while your employees are out of the office!
Return from Absence
Upon return from absence due to sickness, travel, or other short-term responsibilities that have drawn your employee out of the office, Priority Matrix serves as an effective tool to get them back on track.
As new responsibilities that will fall into the hands of said team member arise, simply aggregate and delegate them using Priority Matrix.
You can create a new project to store this information until their return, or, you can put tasks directly into existing projects and set due dates post-employee-return.
In many workplaces, it can take days for employees to get back up to speed after taking time off.
With Priority Matrix, it takes just minutes.
Understanding Employee Responsibilities
When employees take long-term leave – whether maternity leave, sabbatical, or something else of the sort, the pressure to pick up their workload is much greater than when employees take off for a week or so.
Some things can wait a week – in this case, it’s essential that what’s left behind be dealt with.
- Understanding the priorities and goals of whoever is on leave
- Capturing the daily, weekly, and monthly responsibilities that person
- Passing them along to a new team member (whether a temporary hire or an existing team member)
How can this be done?
1. In order to understand the priorities of team members on leave, employees can simply share their top, medium, and low-priority goals in Priority Matrix. These can even be augmented with due dates on which those milestones need to be hit, and additional documents that will aid in the understanding of these projects.
2. Daily, Weekly, and Monthly responsibilities can be captured using “custom templates” and “recurring due dates” in Priority Matrix. For example: we post to our blog every Tuesday and Thursday. I can set recurring, rolling due dates for these blog posts, and assign the task to my content assistant. Each time she checks it off as finished, it will create a “fresh” task, due the following week.
3. To transfer this information, simply invite new team members to delegate entire projects of whoever is on leave. Or, delegate items on a task-by-task basis.
When delegating an entire project, whoever takes over will immediately understand the priorities and milestones that must be hit for that project.
See “handing over projects” in the section “when employees quit” for more.
Losing employees is a big deal, whether they’re “lost” for a week, a month, or for good.
Each team member plays a critical role to the success of your organization, and letting their responsibilities fall to the wayside is simply not an option.
This can cost your business 1,000s of dollars over the span of as little as a week.
With Priority Matrix, however, you’ll be able to:
- Understand the priorities of employees on leave, or employees who have left for good
- Assess what’s been left behind
- Quickly and effectively bring new team members up to speed
The good news is, the sooner your team gets on Priority Matrix, the better protected you are against unexpected employee attrition.
Start today and thank yourself tomorrow.