LEADERSHIP RESOURCES BLOG

Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

What do I do when a star employee leaves the company?

By Boyd Ober 06/26/2015

It’s no secret that people are one of the most valuable assets for a growing organization. That makes employee retention a key concern for executives. After all, individual talents, skills, and time are leveraged by a company to achieve results. Spend any time online and you’ll see business outlets and media sites sharing a number of facts and statistics about hiring and retaining skilled employees:

Company leaders put a lot of effort into the recruitment process. And we hope that our recruitment strategies are just as effective.

But, the truth is – employees have their own personal goals and ambitions, and despite our best efforts, they may choose to pursue outside opportunities. What do you do when this happens?

Oh no! One of my star employees just announced his resignation!

In this situation, the first step is to take a deep breath.

“It’s important to not over-react,” says Patty Marmie, coach and facilitator at Leadership Resources. “If the news came as a surprise, you may experience an ‘amygdala hijack,’ with your reptilian brain jumping in with the first thing that comes to mind. Take a step back and process a bit before you respond.”

As Patty suggests, it’s important to seek the “why” behind the decision. Ask questions to find out why the star is leaving. Whether they are pursuing a higher level of responsibility, tackling new challenges, or seeking a change of pace, you’ll want to know the reasons for their departure. The intent behind these questions is not to convince him or her to stay, but to learn how you can be proactive in keeping employees instead of reacting when they leave.

Keep in mind that not all exits are negative. Even though this person was a star employee, the opening within the company may provide an opportunity for others to step up and demonstrate leadership skills they’ve gained through development and individual coaching.

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.Should I still invest in my employees? What if those I invest in end up leaving the company as well?

This is where a great sports analogy comes in – the classic case of “playing not to lose” rather than playing to win. Coach Patty Marmie says that it is our responsibility as leaders to develop the people around us.  Successful, growing organizations develop their emerging leaders and make a positive impact on the culture.  Development of leaders is a win-win for individuals and organizations.

A negative or hesitant attitude toward employee development, based on the fear that they may exit the company one day, is damaging to company culture and individual performance. Perhaps you’ve seen this humorous, yet thought-provoking image that often pops up on social networks:

Invest in Employee Retention
CFO: What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us? CEO: What happens if we don’t, and they stay?

Instead of letting this fear paralyze the development plan, have a strategic conversation with each individual at your organization to discover his or her strengths, goals, ambitions, and dreams. You may discover that your organization is an excellent five to ten-year stint on the journey to an individual’s ultimate destination. If done correctly, the years they spend with you will generate far more ROI than you initially invested. Plus, the employee will emerge a better leader, with more confidence and willingness to serve as a referral source for future employees and clients.

How do I fill the opening for this star employee’s position?

Two words: Succession plan.

If the employee is truly a star within the organization, there needs to be a strategic process surrounding the promotion or department of this individual. Develop a cross-training program in your organization so success does not depend on a single individual but the team as a whole. Identify strengths and talents within the organization that could easily adapt, move up, or transfer to blossom into a new leader in this area.

A general housekeeping note – make sure there is documentation for all procedures. Check on this regularly. You don’t want a star employee to hold all the processes in her mind, only to take them with her when she goes!

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Organizational Alignment Leads to Success

By Leadership Resources 11/25/2014

In today’s business world of multiple priorities, increased worker responsibility, and rapidly changing externalities, strategy has the best chance of succeeding when all parts of an organization are in alignment.  When we refer to organizational alignment, what we’re really talking about is the linking of organizational goals with the employees‘ individual goals. This requires common understanding of purposes and goals of the organization, and consistency between objectives and plans.

Owners, executives, and key leaders set the tone in culture and expectations.  If these expectations are communicated and supported by the daily activity of the team, progress will be made.  Conversely, if the entire team is not on board and working toward those expectations, it’s unlikely that they will be achieved. Whether it’s an individual or an entire department that is headed in a different direction, the entire company is pulled off course.

One of our clients shared the following perspective with us on how systematically using our leadership development processes has helped them achieve organizational alignment:

Our relationship with Leadership Resources has helped establish a systematic way of communicating, managing and goal setting. Although we had excellent teamwork prior to working with Leadership Resources, it has undoubtedly added value by taking us to the next level as we live out our model of doing life together.  We are seeing solutions being created that are driving more revenue to the bottom-line as our supervisors are speaking the same language as they work together on cross departmental projects.  We are committed to the success of our employees and clients.   We believe Leadership Resources is a key contributor to helping us attain our vision. 

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.In the above success story, the president and top-level executives had a clear vision identified.  We worked with their department supervisors to identify department and individual goals to support the vision.  As we worked with them to create accountability and consistency, they began to see positive results throughout the organization.

Leadership Resources offers the following tips to keep your organization in alignment:

  1. Create culture of alignment by developing organizational statements, such as mission, purpose, vision, values, that are exhibited on a daily basis by leaders and employees alike. These must be authentic and reviewed on a regular basis to be effective. Check out our organizational statements.
  2. Set long-term strategic objectives. Executives and key leaders should set a plan for where the organization is headed in three years, five years, even ten years. Once you know where you want to go, you can begin to create a path to get there.
  3. Set short-term objectives that support your strategic objectives. Work with individuals and departments to set goals for forward progress. With input from key leaders, staff can identify and use their high payoff activities to maximum benefit of the organization.
  4. Hold regular meetings for accountability and adjustment. Check on the status of short and long-term objectives. Communicate issues. Make adjustments.  Make sure you’re moving forward and keep the team going in the same direction.

Organizational alignment creates synergy and motivation which propels an organization forward and creates success. For more insight on organizational alignment, watch this short video to see what Leadership Resources President and CEO, Boyd Ober has to say.

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