Don't Fear the Search
Think about the last time a valued employee came to you and resigned. What was your response? For many managers and senior leaders, staff turnover is fraught with emotion. So much so, that there are some who prefer to live in a staffing strategy of fear and denial rather than opportunity and aspiration.
Fear and denial is easy to identify in a manager, it is typically coupled with statements such as, “Please, let me know if you are ever looking,” and actions that look more like a cold shoulder rather than a warm handshake on the employee’s last day. Even when a manager is the most supportive and encouraging, there are times that turnover happens, and while a manager’s inability to maintain a consistent team can be indication of failure of leadership, this is typically not the circumstance. Rather, employees want to move on and move up. Millennials are more willing to change jobs than previous generations. As leaders, we need to become more comfortable with the idea that staff turnover will happen, and the caliber of the staff member who leaves the organization, will have a direct impact on the pedigree and abilities of the staff member who fills their place within the team.
In other words - when a high quality employee leaves, a higher quality pool of candidates will develop. This is what I mean when I encourage leaders to consider strategic staffing models based in opportunity and aspiration rather than fear and denial. As a leader, you should anticipate that any individual in your organization will depart for any reason - planned or spontaneous. It should not take weeks to launch a search, rather, by having a standard process that is vetted by your HR office, up to date job descriptions, and a standing team of search experts within your organization who can mobilize with efficiency - you can execute an effective search and ease the strain that can often times be felt by remaining staff members who must take on additional responsibilities when there are vacancies.
However, before launching a search, you must be sure you know what you are searching for. What qualities, what skills, what competencies are you seeking in a new employee? Will hiring an outside candidate bring a better result, or is the potential for an internal promotion create with it a more strategic outcome for your organization? As your search team is finalizing candidates and doing reference checks, this is an ideal time to begin to plan effective transition and onboarding. A plan should be in place that includes not only basic housekeeping items, but clear benchmarks and measure for three, six and nine months post start date.
Being a strategic leader with an aspirational mindset for your team means that when someone says they are leaving, you can celebrate their contribution, rather than fear the search.