We can all be replaced in a crisis situation
As many of you know I ended up in the hospital for 9 days over the busiest time period of the year.
From Sept 26 through Oct 26, 60% of our yearly revenue comes in. This is the time when I need every tour director I can find. I expect myself and my staff to be working 15 hour days every day for 30 days straight.
On Sept 29 I went to the emergency room for a foot infection. They told me I had a deep wound and had to be admitted overnight. On Sept 30 I was told I was going to be in the hospital a couple of days as my wound was worse than I thought and was told I could lose a foot or my life if I left the hospital.
I had 11 tours on the road every day for the next two weeks and I was a critical part of the equations. During the summer I had the insight to train all of my tour directors to be able to do all of our fall foliage tours, I asked my industry friends if they would be willing to help out just in case, if I needed them and if they were not fully booked. I had outsourced the accounting and the internet marketing. I thought I was ready for anything except me going down. I have never been hospitalized in 20 years and never anticipated that I would end up in a hospital bed during the busiest time of the year for 9 days, followed by having to have the dressing changed every day for a month and an intravenous antibacterial.
I had a crisis management plan. I had all of my files stored in the cloud and was confident I could run the company from anywhere in the world. I had a well trained staff that I could switch from tour to tour if I needed to. I had hired military veterans with strong leadership skills, I hired graduates from the International guide academy and the International Tour Management Institute. I have a solid bookkeeper and a solid person to take care of the internet marketing. I thought the staff at Tye’s Tours was ready for anything. What I had not accounted for was that everything revolved around me at the center of the operation.
In 40 years I always worked the Columbus day weekend. I had never been seriously ill and here I am confined to a hospital bed with only a cell phone and a lap top.
My team stepped up to the plate they took over my tours. I spent the time I was in bed with my laptop and my cell phone and coordinating everything. The nurses were commenting daily about my work ethic and that I was still able to work 10 hours a day from a hospital bed. I juggled the tour schedules switched tour directors from one tour to another, made sure all the tours were covered, the bills were paid the operations were in order etc. I found out not only how good I am at multi tasking, but how good my team is, and how much I trust and rely on them, to make the right decisions. I realized how important the leadership training our military vets have and that hiring former military offices was a good decision. Rookie guides showed me they had the right stuff and were invaluable assets to the team. They took leadership roles in making everything work. They showed me that they could apply the skills a military officer has to my business. If you have doubts about hiring vets, it is the right thing to do and adds strength to the team. Freedom is not free, and those willing to protect my freedoms deserve every break I can give them. Yes Tye Tours gives preferential treatment to vets and hope others do as well. It was a confidence builder when the team would call me and say; “tell us what needs to be done and we will get it done.” There was no bitching moaning or complaining, they just got it done. They called each other, they briefed each other, and they called me with solutions. When I asked them to stay longer as I was unable to do some of the tasks I normally do, no one said no. I realized how much more responsibility my team could handle and that when given the power and authority they would make the right decisions.
As a person who always wants to be in control, it was hard to step back, but when forced to let others step up, I realized how strong my team is. My leadership role as an executive changed and my staff evolved, the nine days I was in a hospital bed. I learned how much responsibility each member of the team was willing to take on and that it was far more than I ever expected. My role as the boss is evolving to one of a team leader with several teams under me. I have always believed that the more I help others the more they will help me. I COULD NOT BE PROUDER OF THE TEAM WE HAVE IN PLACE AND THE SUPPORT THEY HAVE GIVEN ME, WHILE I WAS IN BED.
I am so grateful that I spent the time, money and energy to train the team to take over every aspect of the business. I am so happy that I listened when I told I had to use the cloud so I could access information no matter where I was. (Including being confined to a hospital bed.) I am so grateful that I have friends and family that were willing to help me, no one ever said no to my requests for help. I discovered that asking for help was ok, and by letting my team know how much they were appreciated the more they were willing to do for me.
While I was down, we were able to implement a new website and accounting system. A big Thank you to Tom and Jennifer, for understanding my needs and figuring out what needed to be done and how to do it. I truly appreciate that when I was going stir crazy Jennifer was willing to give me lessons via phone and my lap top. The website would have been functional without my input, the plan was in place. The team kept me involved which kept me connected.
I can’t thank people like Johnny O who said to me I will do whatever needs to be done and we will get it done. Hollijo and Sue who stayed past the days they were scheduled and filled in where ever possible. Cheryl D who took on a n extra 10 day tour with international travelers, Shannon for filling in when she could. My brother doing a tour to a place he had never been. There are very few companies that are fortunate enough to have such a loyal team. It was never about money , it was always about being the best they could be and supporting me while I supported them. Shelly for helping out when she could.
Accidents will happen to all of us. Take the time, spend the money develop a crisis management plan and make sure that it works.
Some other musings
A hospital is no place to rest it is full of sick people. I felt the longer I stayed the more likely I would get sicker. Someone is poking, prodding, or taking your vitals every two hours. There alarms going off and if you can get three hours of consecutive sleep that is a lot.
The care I received was exceptional. The food was horrible. I would not eat brown lettuce at home and would not eat in a hospital. The salad dressings were full of salt and calories, the menu choices extremely limited.
If the hospital would allow patients to sleep they would probably leave sooner. If the hospital food had healthy options, they would probably get well sooner.
While in the hospital I was on an 1800 calorie a day diet I lost 20 lbs over 9 days and not sure if that was good or bad. I am out of the hospital and eating healthy and still losing weight. Clothes that I have not worn in years now fit me again.