August 25, 2020
“We Got This!”
One of the hallmarks of having a good team is the minimization of slippage that occurs when one member of the team is absent. I used to work on my old high school’s maintenance crew during my summers off in college. I mowed and painted many miles during those summers. One of my friends on that crew was Don, and he was an excellent blue-collar sage. He used to say, “Anybody that says they have too much work to do and can’t afford to take time off needs to be fired. It means that they can’t prioritize their work and they haven’t prepared the rest of the team to pick up their slack while they are gone.”
Last week my Better 7/8ths and I unexpectedly had to return home to help place a loved one in home hospice. There are never good times for things like this to happen, but this occurred within a week of our summer State Extension Advisory Council (SEAC) meeting and less than two weeks before our August Partnership Meeting – which is tonight from 7 to 8:30 p.m., by the way. To say this was a bad time to be taking off of work was an understatement.
After coming up with plans A, B, and C and checking, double checking, and triple checking with my Extension Administration Team, one of them texted “You always say family first. Go. We got this!”
I went. We were able to get back in plenty of time for the SEAC meeting, but I had little time to prepare. It did not matter. My team was prepared. The presenters were ready to go, and I just slid right in there. The SEAC meeting, our first virtual SEAC meeting, went off seemingly without a hitch.
I am writing this for two reasons. First, to thank my Extension Administration Team for picking up the slack in my absence. Second, I believe this situation can serve as a metric for your own teams. What happens on your team when someone takes time off, whether expected or unexpected? Is your team empowered to say, “We got this!” and take care of your high priority items with a minimum of overall slippage in team productivity? Or, does your team flounder?
If your answer is the former, be happy with your team and let them know they are appreciated. If your answer is the latter, then gather your team together and talk about it. Do some team building and scenario planning for your and their major activities that are coming down the pike.
In the not too distant future, I know that my Better 7/8ths and I will unfortunately need to be called away again. That’s life and that’s OK. I can rest easier when that call comes because I know my team can say “We got this!” Can yours?