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Archive for April, 2011

Work Life Balance

It was nice this year for the religious calendars to bless us all with Passover and Easter falling after we accomplished helping our clients meet or extend their individual tax filing for 2010. Of course, the IRS almost messed it up with a little known holiday in Washington, D.C. called “Emancipation Day” that pushed the filing date to April 18th from the 15th, adding another weekend to busy season.  Normally, we are rushing home for a Seder dinner or having to work on Good Friday. However, this year’s calendar allowed our partners and staff to enjoy their holidays, take some vacation and spend time with their families last week.

We can’t ignore the value of appropriate work life balance.  We all work hard at our individual jobs and the purpose, what makes it all worth it, is to be able to provide our families with a lifestyle they are comfortable with and the perks that come as a result of our efforts. Spending time with our families is probably the most enjoyable thing we can do. It allows us to relax, let our defenses down and forget about the pressure and madness we experience in our 40-60 hour work week.

From the perspective of a CEO, having our staff well rested and fulfilled means that they can approach their work week fresh and with enthusiasm. But most importantly, this is when ideas are developed and our valued employees perform with their best efforts.

In the end we must remember the value of family time and how we all come out ahead when we can strike the right balance.

Bill

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Crisis

While our hearts and thoughts continue to be with the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the recent natural disaster comes with many lessons. It’s still early, and there are many details yet to be revealed regarding the way decision makers reacted to the disaster. However, it does appear that lack of preparation certainly attributed to the vast amount of damage done. The most visible and ongoing challenge is with the nuclear reactors that continue to be a threat to the Japanese. The reactors were built to withstand an earthquake of 8.2 and tsunami wave of 20 feet,but had to withstand an earthquake of 9.0 and a tsunami of 30 feet. While it is always difficult to determine how much you should prepare for a crisis, there is plenty of evidence that the magnitude of the earthquake was a possibility.  An earthquake in that part of the world is normally accompanied by a tsunami, so Tokyo Energy and Power (TEPCO) could have been better prepared. 

When we look at our own businesses we have to wonder if we are prepared for a crisis. This can range from loss of data to loss of physical office space due to fire, theft or a natural disaster such as the Japanese experienced. It is important that we take a look at how well we are insured as a first step. A review should be comprehensive and include the evaluation of insurance amounts to make sure they are adequate. Part of any insurance review needs to be an understanding of coverages related to compliance with laws and regulations. We recently had a client get entangled in a suit for potentially violating a law he didn’t realize even existed.

However, we must look beyond insurance; if your business is like ours and heavily reliant on data and the internet, there must be back-up data storage facilities in place and duplicate T3 lines for internet access. And as many manufacturing companies are finding, you may need to look beyond your own facilities being struck by a crisis and look to suppliers. There are currently a number of companies suffering since they can’t get parts from companies affected by the Japanese crisis.  To avoid this, second source suppliers need to be lined-up.

I would suggest a planning session with critical members of your management team where you put down the “what ifs.” What if we had a natural disaster? A fire? Or if our vendors or customers are afflicted? You should map out a crisis plan detailing first steps to insure employee safety. Then develop a plan to bring the company back online and finally get the message out to employees and customers.

It may seem like a waste of time since we all hope to never be caught up in a crisis; however, if you are unlucky enough to find yourself in this position, how you react as a leaders will be critical to mitigating the damages and getting your company back online. 

Bill

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