What To Do When a Key Employee Leaves

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At some point in the life of your company, you will lose a key team member or manager––or two or three. Possibly someone you thought was your best person ever, or someone you were counting on for a successful year.

After the initial feeling of disappointment, and after a quick (!) evaluation of what you might have done differently, you must pick yourself up and realize that you have been given a gift. Because when a door closes, a window of opportunity has opened. Pick up your head and look around!

Example.  An ambitious contractor in the south had been grooming his #2 person. He hired him last year, and spent the year investing in him, and was counting on him for a breakout season! But the #2 guy called in and said, for various reasons, he would be gone for the spring, back in the summer. What does one do in that situation?

In all businesses, there comes a time when you need to step back, reflect and regroup, in order to move forward stronger and faster.  Einstein said it best, “The shortest distance between two points is not a straight line.” He must have had a landscape business on the side.

Four questions to consider when a key person leaves:

  1. Is there anything about that person’s job that you need to tweak, improve or streamline?
  2. Where were you held back by this person, that you can now move forward?
  3. What can you now accomplish at a higher level, with a different and better person?
  4. What opportunity does this gap now create for your current staff to step up and prove themselves? (The best leaders, all things being equal, are those that develop through your ranks because they are aligned with systems, culture and clients.)

When someone leaves you high and dry, don’t speak disparagingly because your employees will wonder “what would the boss say about me if I left?”. Be kind, be positive, and be future oriented.

Jeffrey’s Breakthrough Idea: Embrace every drop in altitude as an opportunity to retool, speed up and reach new heights.

Take Action: Be proactive and develop a contingency plan, by looking at each key position and asking yourself and your team what the company should do if it suddenly lost that person. Who would do what, who would step up, and what processes would you simplify or stop doing? This type of planning will both prepare your mindset and help streamline your current operations.

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