What do I do?! A key employee just up and quit.
As leaders – unfortunately there are less then rosy days. Yes, it is not all golf courses and lake views from the boat of choice. Of all the days however – the days that seem to cause the greatest level of angst are when we lose a good team member. But were they? They left. But why did they leave? We will save that for another discussion. Today I want to cover this departure from the perspective of what to do when that person has key technology access or performs mission vital processes.
Ever hear the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? I get a heavy eye roll if it is too late. You know the situation. The store manager quits, and they have the only key. Or the passwords. Or knows how things are done. As leaders, it is our process to trust, but verify – even with the most valued, loyal, tenured respected members of our team. I mean, they would never leave, right? Let’s face it – even the most loyal are 6 lucky numbers from leaving you for a beach elsewhere. I break it into two areas; systems and processes.
Systems. As owner, you are the Admin. Period. Larger organizations have the luxury of redundancy in senior positions, so the risk is mitigated. But for the average business, the owner is the Admin. So, when that horrible moment of gut-wrenching anxiety hits – you have the master key to ALL your technologies. Now it might be tempting to make this part of “entrusting and delegating”; I am a HUGE proponent of hiring great people to do great things. But you must keep surety of access, as well as surety of accountability. So, systems and technologies – you are the Admin. Make sure you have a safe and secure place for all credentials, contact information, account numbers. To hit this home and make it stick – even if you are running to fill in for a delivery driver that suddenly called in sick on a Friday afternoon, and your entrusted and loyal manager says “Hey can I sign-up for a new email service – the answer is “Absolutely, love your initiative. Please hold on a sec and let’s do that together”. Tactfully engaged. Love it.
Processes. You meet with your team on a regular basis. We have all done/do this, and most times these often-impromptu sits quickly go to “numbers numbers numbers”. Holding regular productive – agenda driven coaching and mentoring meetings are part art, part science – and a must. Again, a topic for another day. For today’s topic – during one meeting a month you should ask “Lets review your key processes”. This is a great time to brainstorm and collaborate on ways to continuously improve. To give credit where credit is due. These continuously refined key processes should then be documented for others to benefit from. But you see what this does. Those entrusted team members – doing the right thing in helping you to grow and do better; are now helping you to define what you need should they Mega Millions on you. Leaders at all levels should be building this operational process repository for your business – no matter how large or small or medium your business is. If you just caught yourself saying “I don’t need to do that because….blah, blah, blah”. Yep, you too.
So, recap. Systems and Technologies. You are the Admin. Inject yourself into account creations and software “sign-ups”. You don’t need to become the foremost authority on the decision – that is why we hire people smarter than us; but you are the Admin. Processes. Start building that key process document. Don’t go in hot and heavy and then quit. This is a slow and steady wins the race exercise. It will start small, but over time – it will become a great training tool as well as what saves you when the horrible happens.