People leaving your company, because they quit or you let them go, is the least discussed and most disruptive aspect of business ownership. So, let’s discuss it!
Regardless of the scenario, replacing someone (if you do it correctly) eats up an enormous amount of time and energy. If you are not involved in the hiring, it will eat up a lot of time and energy for the member of your team that has to find someone great.
I do not have all the answers on this but below are some of the thoughts I have learned over the past 30 years of work (Just writing that makes me feel a bit old).
People Will Leave. Solve For It.
Read all the books about having a great office culture and building a workplace where nobody would ever quit. People will still leave or you will need to let someone go. When they do, you need to cover their work and begin the process of finding a replacement. That process, no matter who you are, is a drag. Posting the job, reading resumes, scheduling interviews and getting a new person up to speed can take months. Paying a head hunter is very expensive. Do it a few times a year and much of your year will be stuck in the hiring process.
Why not start 2018 knowing that people will leave and make prospecting for talent as important as prospecting for clients/customers? Where you usually post a job when there is an opening (And, therefore, playing defense instead of offense) try posting for the type of people you would like to add to your business whether you have an opening or not. Literally create a pipeline for hiring prospects and leads in your CRM software or on a spreadsheet you check regularly. Set a goal to have 20-30 people that would be a great addition to your business when you have a spot. Schedule to meet 3-5 new people every month. By the way, this approach will pay off in many ways beyond hiring.
Always Raise Your Average.
I got this advice long ago: Every new hire should raise the average of your team. If they do not, you should not make the hire. I know it is tempting to just get someone hired so you can get back to work. Remember, the level of your team will track directly to the level of your business. Therefore, you MUST view each new hire as an opportunity to improve your business.
“Will this person be significantly better than the person they are replacing?” should be the only question you need to be asking. If the answer is no, I suggest you deal with the short term pain the job vacancy creates and hold out for someone that will add value to your business (Or consider if the job needs to be replaced or if you would hire someone with different skills to match where you want your business to go). The “people pipeline” you are building should make the process much easier.
Do Not Try To Engineer An Exit.
Consider two scenarios that may sound familiar:
- You have someone that is not a great fit for your business but you do not want to fire them. So you stop giving them raises and wait for them to find another job (Avoiding severance and your stress over firing them).
- Someone threatens to leave unless you give them a big bump in pay. So you give in and pay them and tell yourself you will replace them when it suits you best.
I have tried them both many times and they never end well. Ultimately, they leave when it is least convenient for you or you end up with a letter from an employment lawyer.
“Ripping off the band-aid” with candor and empathy is a better option that will lead to a better result. If you cannot give them the increase, then explain it to them. If they have to leave, then let them leave (See point 1 above). If they are worth more money, be proactive about rewarding them. If they are not, then you now have an opportunity to raise your average. Let them go with the dignity they deserve and do all you can to help them find a new spot where they can raise the average for someone else (Bonus tip: Stay connected to them and prove that your desire to help them was not just words. If they are leaving with integrity, do right by them and it will come back to you tenfold).
Annual Performance Reviews Are a Relic.
How often do members of your team leave an annual performance review happy with with what they heard and the bonus and/or increase you offered? When anything builds up for a year, there can only be a let down. Now, this does not mean that I think you should be giving out increases so often that your payroll gets ahead of your revenue.
Again, I think you need to change the game and stop following cold corporate models. If you remember my newsletter about the 36 month year (You can read it here), then everyone in the company should be aligned with your 36 month goal. I have found that most people just want to know the path they have at your company, what they can hope to achieve and how it will help them fulfill the dreams they have for their life. Therefore, your reviews should live at the intersection of the biggest dreams you have for the business AND the biggest dreams they want to achieve for themselves.
That 36 month goal, by the way, should be significant enough so that the rewards for you and your team will make everyone ecstatic when you get there. Think bigger.
Reward bigger. Always demonstrate how your business dreams fit into their life dreams. Communicate like crazy.
Each of these topics could be their own article. In the meantime, what I hope to get across is that the current reactionary approach we take to staff disruption is sapping time and energy from our businesses and our lives. We feel defeated when someone leaves. We rush the hiring process and we worry about the mood it creates in the business.
Be clear with everyone about how you think about people leaving. Be clear about what you reward the team for. Get ahead of the process so someone leaving feels like an opportunity to improve the business. Keep those that leave (the right way) in your orbit.
Oh, if you are worried about what ANYONE outside your company thinks about people leaving (You know, your competitors that like to gossip and waste their time thinking about you) then check your pride. You already know what to tell it.