The majority of team sports have the benefit of being able to substitute someone in if a player gets injured or is tired. The coach can even strategize and put players in different positions in an attempt to put a better result on the scoreboard.

Most organisations don’t have the luxury of “running a bench” so they can put another employee onto the office floor should someone fall ill or resign.  A number of larger companies may opt for an internal promotion, maybe even a backfill situation with an external contractor whilst a permanent replacement is sought.

SME’s are often afforded no such staffing luxuries or succession plan options. There has been a multitude of instances where I have met with cool, calm and collected SME business owners or senior leaders to notice their furrowed brows when they tell me that one of their key employees has left and now they are well and truly under the pump.

What happens thereafter is invariably an endeavour to find a suitable, and often high performing candidate (hey, good staff can find other jobs) within a short timeframe.

Are the best of the worst then selected?  Perhaps.

Is there pressure on leaders and other staff?  Probably.

Can this problem be avoided……??

Chances are there is no silver bullet to fully avoid the pain inflicted by staff turnover in smaller organisations.

There could be four things that may help reduce the pain though that may be worth considering if you are not already doing them.

  1. Organisation Charts- Organisation charts can often be left out of date and the proper titles and the roles staff play are not visually represented. Take stock of the total workforce. Taken to the next level, what would a possible 1, 3 or 5 year organisation chart look like?
  2. Succession Plans– Consider modifying an organisation chart or using a template to create a succession plan minimally for those positions that can be absolutely critical to your operations. Adopt a mentality of always looking for staff or considering possibilities to fill new or existing roles.
  3. Cross Train/Job Enrich– If it hasn’t crossed your mind, where possible can you start to multi-skill staff to be able to fully or partially take over or contribute to other staff member’s roles? What are some of the other skills staff have in their toolkit bag?
  4. Communicate/Check-In– Open up the lines of communication with staff the best you can in regards to not only their performance but their intentions about the future. What can you do to help each other? Do not make a review discussion, be it formal or informal just a yearly activity. Are staff happy in their roles or are they about to fly the coop and leave you in a bind?