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Legal column: How to avoid making a team member irreplaceable

Every business faces risks that could threaten its success or affect its worth. One frequent risk is having indispensable employees.

As a general rule, you should manage your company with the assumption that no one is irreplaceable and that any of your employees could quit tomorrow (whether voluntarily or because of an illness or death). It is common for changes to occur within a business, even at the executive level. Let’s look at a few measures you can implement to maximize the value of your business while minimizing risks. 

Data transfer

1-    Company information
Make sure any useful information for the company and all insider information can be accessed at all times by at least two people. This includes information like:

  • passwords
  • access codes
  • client lists
  • supplier lists
  • cost lists

This is not to say that sensitive information should be shared with just anyone, but it’s important to ensure that a few key people who can be trusted have access to this type of information. Sensitive information should also be properly saved on a regular basis. By taking these simple measures, you will minimize the risk of losing vital data. 

2-    Financial data
When it comes to financial matters, your corporate bank account should have more than one authorized signatory and several bank cards, and access should not be controlled by a single person. If you do wish to limit account access and banking transactions to a single person, make sure that at least one other person can review the accounts. You should also prepare a protection mandate in case the person in charge of your company’s finances becomes incapable. Doing so could save you a lot of wasted time and worry.   

3-    Client account management
Make sure that any information about clients, client follow-ups, accounts receivable reminders, payment agreements and other such documents are kept in a file that can be easily accessed by more than one person. Using customer relationship management software (CRM) can be very useful for organizing any information related to clients, after-sale follow ups and market research. CRMs can also be used to save data.

Knowledge sharing

You should also make sure that the company’s knowledge is shared by several people or that it can at least be easily shared if need be.

For technical data, it might be useful to develop an instruction guide, for example. A business whose specific expertise depends on a single individual is at very high risk. If this is true for your company, make sure that person documents their actions and knowledge to avoid issues if they ever leave. 

Sometimes, a co-contractor provides training on a product or service that the company needs. If the cost of this training is included in the co-contractor’s services, the company could have to pay additional fees if more training is required following an employee’s departure. Avoid extra expenses and delays by making sure the training is disseminated throughout the company and that several employees understand the technical data of the products being used to do business. 

Similarly, if the company conducts a significant amount of research and development as part of its activities, it can be worthwhile for several employees to be involved in developing these new ideas or innovations. 

Conclusion

Adopting these management habits can spare you a load of trouble, in addition to boosting the value of your company. It’s a simple and efficient way to reduce your company’s risk factor while increasing its staying power. 

Sylvie Bougie, business law attorney
Vigi services juridiques inc.