Do you have the right people in place at your dealership to pick up the slack if you need to be out of the office for an extended period, whether expected or unexpected? As I prepare for my upcoming maternity leave, it’s becoming even clearer to me how important it is to have the right team in place. We’re lucky at Farm Equipment to have a team that works well together and communicates well with each other. Everyone is willing to jump in and help when the need arises.

We’ve been lucky enough to have the time to prepare for my absence, but sometimes illness or other circumstances strike out of the blue. When that happens, you can’t work ahead to know that you’re leaving the rest of the team in a position to keep things moving as smoothly as possible. In those cases, it’s important to already have a good team in place. If you aren’t already confident the show can go on without you, it might be time to start having conversations with key team members to make sure they know enough about your, and each other’s, day-to-day tasks to jump in and help out.

In the June issue of Farm Equipment, we ran a special report called “Transitioning to the Next Generation of Dealers.” In the report we spoke with 8 individuals who have gone through, or are going through, the succession process. One thing they all seemed to say was how important open communication was throughout the transition. Communication isn’t only important for those transitioning into leadership roles. Open communication is important for all members of a successful team — open communication breeds teamwork. One thing our team does each Monday is to send each a list of our tasks for the week. This way, we always know what’s being worked on or what the priorities are. It also gives us the chance to offer assistance and ideas and balance the workload. Making sure we all know where each other is on certain projects means that others can step up in case of an emergency or just because some may have a heavier workload at that time.

Having a team of players with the right technical skills is important, but those soft skills like communication, a willingness to ask questions and just having a good attitude can take the team dynamic to a whole new level. Those are the skills that will kick in when you’re suddenly down an employee, whether it’s due to illness, vacation or maybe someone leaves the company. The employees with those characteristics are likely the ones you can trust to jump in when you need them most.