8 Tips for Handling Unexpected Employee Turnover

I have a confession to make: It’s easier to be a solo-preneur.

I’m serious.

Here’s what I mean: Once you decide that you are really a CEO trapped in a solo-preneur’s business, you’ll start thinking bigger and wanting to leverage and scale. And once you start thinking about leverage and scale, you’ll inevitably have to start thinking about building a team (it is the ONLY way to effectively leverage and scale.) Once you decide to build a team, [deep sigh] you may not be ready for everything that goes along with that. The more people on your team, the more potential drama – personality conflicts, sick days, projects not completed on time, people advancing their own agendas – these are some of the downsides, but they are real and you need to be prepared for your business to grow in this way.

You’ve got to have your systems tight to effectively bring on and manage a team (whether employees or contractors.) Check out sba.gov for some great insight into whether your team members can be contractors or they should be your employees.

Before you go out and just start hiring a team, make sure that you have thought things through, done your due diligence and verified that you need a full team instead of just a key member or two.

Even if you do everything right during the hiring process, you’ll likely experience turnover. All turnover is not bad, but all turnover costs your business something. The truth is, how you manage employee turnover can determine the viability of your business. Hiring definitely impacts your bottom line.

A year ago, I took a question from June where she asked:

“Hi Darnyelle, I have a team of 8 employees who overall do a good job, but lately one of my employees has been pushing the envelope a little too much so it became necessary to let them go. Now that we are down an employee and another is out on an unexpected sick leave my question is – What do you do when you have unexpected employee turnover?”

Check out my response to June in this previous episode of Incredible Factor TV:

As I share in the episode, turnover is the cost of doing business. And it kind of sucks when you weren’t expecting it. In order to better safeguard your business, here are some of my recommendations.

1. Review your organization chart quarterly. You may think you need a full-blown team when you really can get everything done with a few people. To scale but stay lean, you’ll have to be clear that every FTE (full-time employee) is necessary. There’s nothing worse than having people available but not enough work to keep them focused on moving the needle. While reviewing your org chart, look for opportunities to pair duties together. For instance, if your admin assistant is calling clients to remind them of their appointment, can she also make welcome calls to new prospects?

2. Create SOPs. By having standard operating procedures for each position in your company, you’ll make it easy to get a new person up the learning curve or to have another team member step in so that the business doesn’t suffer because you’re down a key employee. I recommend that moving forward, have each person who is on the team to begin documenting all that they do and it becomes their responsibility to keep it updated in the event that they will be absent for any reason.

3. Keep job descriptions updated. If your job descriptions are always updated, you can get access to a new team member much sooner. Also, during the termination process, consider if some of the functions done by your employee can be outsourced, at least temporarily. By having a contractor who has the experience (in general) step in to perform the function on your team, you’ll be less likely to miss a beat and you might even save big on the overhead associated with having an employee versus having a contractor.

4. Cross train. Where applicable, I recommend making sure that you cross train your team on other functions so that you can cover during vacations, illness or employee termination/resignation. If everyone just does their job, you’re not ensuring that your business will be able to grow effectively no matter what. You may even want to consider hiring two people per position at a time if you can afford it so that you always have a built in back up.

5. Have every employee complete a “day in the life” summary. If you have every employee document what they do day in and day out in the form of a day in the life summary, it will be much easier to slide into that role temporarily to make sure that the processes that they are responsible for don’t slip through the cracks. In the summary, be sure to have them indicate what they do every day, once a week, once a month, etc. And what they do in the morning versus the afternoon.

6. Hold a monthly job shadow. Once a month, have your employees spend the day shadowing each other. I typically pick one day of the week during the fourth week of the month for them to shadow one another for 90 minutes on their core job functions.

7. After the employee or team member is released, clarify if replacing them is necessary. Maybe a modification is needed, perhaps you can’t justify from a ROI standpoint that this particular job is worth it to your bottom line. By being proactive in this process, you’ll save time, money and a few headaches a long the way. If you determine that you’ll need to replace this job function, be slow to hire and fast to fire.

8. Look for opportunities to automate job functions. In today’s marketplace, there’s an app for everything. So before you make it a person’s job function, make sure that you can’ purchase a widget or use your existing CRM to automate that task. We were able to do that for lots of tasks in my company so that when we lost a team member to turnover, we actually realized that we didn’t need to replace them with a new team member, because we could replace them with technology.

While none of these things will stop turnover, they will help you to manage until you can refill a position. As I mentioned, I do also recommend that you take a turnover situation as an opportunity to evaluate the position and ensure that you need to refill it. For example, let’s say you have a lot of administrative team members and you don’t have any sales team. Eliminating an admin job and consolidating functions to the other admin team members may better position you to hire a sales team person whose job responsibility will be to grow the business through new sales.

Now, I want to hear from you; what’s your two cents? How have you handled employee turnover that was unexpected? What do you recommend for June and others like her in the community?

©2016 by Darnyelle A. Jervey. All Rights Reserved. Darnyelle A. Jervey, MBA, The Incredible Factor Business Optimization Coach and Mentor, is the founder of Incredible One Enterprises®, Incredible Factor University® and the Leverage Your Incredible Factor System®, a proven step-by-step program so you experience financial and spiritual abundance in your life because of your business. For more information and a FREE audio CD “7 Critical Mistakes Even Smart Entrepreneurs Must Avoid for Clients, Connection and Cash Flow!” just fill out the form below.

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