How To Keep The Organization Running When The CEO Is Incapacitated Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

Derrick Omollo | 25th March 2020

How To Keep The Organization Running When The CEO Is Incapacitated Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

How To Keep The Organization Running When The CEO Is Incapacitated Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

Derrick Omollo | 25th March 2020


An organization will not always have its top manager around to run the company. S/he may be incapacitated by an illness like the COVID-19 disease which has affected world leaders like the European Union’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michael Barnier, ministers, senators and MPs from countries around the globe. This shows that everybody, irrespective of caliber or job tier, is susceptible to the disease. The CEO of a company is equally likely to be infected by the virus as the support staff member is.

Therefore, it is paramount for organizations to take preventive measures and have contingency plans in the event that the CEO or top manager has been rendered unfit to resume duties.  

  1. Implementation of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)

Among the plans a company could implement to cater for the absence of the CEO is the adoption of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), created by Livonia, MI-based EOS Worldwide. The EOS is a simple, complete, business management system that empowers leadership teams to run successful companies. The EOS doesn’t just empower the business owner only; it can set clear direction for an entire staff within a small business. Everybody in the organization will know what their job is and exactly what their job and responsibilities entail. Everything is covered because it is measured through the EOS.

  1. Assignment Of An Operations Manager To Handle Accounting

But planning for an unexpected absence goes far beyond having a system such as an EOS in place. There needs to be someone who understands invoice procedures, can do payroll and pay bills. Someone other than the business owner should have access to key system passwords and be able to serve as a signor on checks. What will shut down the doors is not having money come in and go out. It is for this reason that an operations manager competent in accounts could be assigned to handle the accounting and bookkeeping functions while the CEO is out. He could be assisted by one other person able to access the money.

  1. Planning Ahead

Having systems and procedures in place to prepare for an unexpected absence is critical for business owners and organizational leaders. Whether it’s a medical issue, accident, unexpected family or personal situation, an emergency can strike at any time. Without a plan, an entity can quickly lose key customers, projects can stall, and in some cases, entire operations can shut down. Planning ahead isn’t just necessary to handle the immediate effects of the boss being absent—the future of your company may depend on it.

Even if you are able to weather the initial storm, if ongoing strategies are not in place, you risk suffering from the aftershocks. For example, employees may become burned out taking on extra responsibilities and begin looking to leave for new opportunities, or initiatives that were postponed may not be able to be jumpstarted quickly enough to take advantage of the corresponding business opportunity. A plan for what to do when the boss is absent prevents situations where no one knows what to do and ensures the company stays up and running.

One option is for the most senior manager to begin running the day-to-day operations, Very quickly, however, he or she should begin establishing new roles for others who can take on more responsibilities. The sooner these roles are established, the quicker the company can get back to as close to normal as possible. Make sure all key stakeholders understand the plan, can execute it and will be able to effectively communicate it to the rest of the staff.

  1. Creation Of An Accountability Chart

Entities should create an accountability chart. This differs from an organizational chart and provides a roadmap that clearly describes the function, role and responsibilities of each individual throughout the organization.

  1. Half Day Plan

Bill Mills is the president of Executive Group, Inc., a Loretto, Minnesota-based CEO peer group. Mills works with CEOs to implement a program called the half day plan. The idea behind the plan is to get business leaders to design a program where over the course of the year they only commit to working 50 percent of their typical time. Each individual designs their own plan--perhaps working four hours a day, a few days a week or even one month on, one month off. At the end of the year they add up their hours and it needs to equal working only 50 percent of the time. Through a series of questions and planning, they break down the CEO’s job responsibilities and identify who in the organization, if the CEO suddenly couldn't be there, should take over those key responsibilities. This type of plan not only gives the CEO more freedom, it gives other employees more responsibilities and prepares staff for a possible crisis in case leaders are unexpectedly out for any period of time.

  1. Establishment Of Succession Plans

Business owners—and all managers—need to establish succession plans, even for temporary absences. This will ensure the business can continue running while the boss is out. Identify a successor and begin training him or her immediately before an emergency arises. An added benefit of a strong succession program is that it can be motivational for the successors, placing a spotlight on their value to the company and enhancing retention of these star performers.

  1. Communicate With All Constituents

Employees, vendors, suppliers and more importantly, customers, want to know that new leadership doesn’t mean drastic or immediate changes. Nothing could hurt a small business more than having the key person leave, retire or pass away and the biggest account walks away because they no longer feel attached to the business. Remember, customers buy based on relationships that may have been built over time. The new person or team must quickly reach out to the customers and work on retaining them long-term.

  1. Key Man Insurance

Since emergency can strike at any time, a contingency plan that includes key man insurance should be in place. Key man (also called key person) insurance helps companies survive the loss of a key leader. This is especially important for a small business because the unexpected death of a business owner can dramatically impact the company, or even cause it to cease operating. Key man insurance covers the cost of consultants, executives, clerical, and administrative personnel to operate the business for a given amount of time. This will allow the business to hire temporary executives to run the company until long term decisions can be made.




2 Likes | Login to Like

You Might Also Like