How to Take Time from Work

Four keys to keeping your farm humming while you are away.

Last week I talked about the importance of taking a vacation. There are many reasons to get away -- your health, good family relationships, great new experiences and the health of your business. Right now you are thinking "Health of my business? Everything falls apart while I'm gone!" This thought plagues many people, especially when you're still young in your operation or you've recently taken on a new piece to your business.

Believe me when I say this. YOU have to make this work. You need to be able to take the time off. It's not an easy process, but there are four steps that can help.

Plan. First you need to determine the pieces that will be assumed while you're gone. What chores need to be covered? What decisions need to be made? What issues could pop up while you are away? A part of the planning process is creating written documentation of tasks that someone must take responsibility for. While this is labor intensive the first time, once done, it becomes a template you use every time.

Delegate. This is the tough part for many people. Figure out who you know that could cover the tasks that you have documented above. If this is an employee that you already have on the farm, decide in advance what additional training they will need in order to accomplish what they will cover in your absence. 

Trust. Trusting should be taken neither too lightly nor too heavily. If you're going to turn the keys of the farm over to someone while you're gone you need to trust them. Trust comes from time spent together and getting to know that person. People trust at different levels. Know where you feel comfortable and build the relationship with that person so that you trust them.

Trial. Now it's time to try it out. A long weekend would be a good trial before you move to a multi-week overseas trip. Be certain they can reach you the first time. Be intentional about good communication ahead of your departure. Having covered the three steps above successfully, you may have just taken the first step in your succession plan.

One of the important parts of a succession plan is training people to take over when you are not there. If they can effectively stand in the gap when you are away, it's a great start toward increasing responsibility to others in the operation.

Think about it as insurance too. If something happened to you causing you to be laid up for a time, you are prepared with people trained to stay the course.   

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