Avoiding the Sinking Feeling You Get When an Employee Quits

You show up at the office tomorrow morning.

The door is locked. The lights are off. Things are quiet. Too quiet.

They’re gone. They’re all gone. No one is here.

“Is it Sunday?” you ask yourself. No, it’s Tuesday.

I’m not sure how many people you’ve got working for you. It could be one. It could be 56.

They’re gone.

What’s left?

You. You’re all that’s left.

You look at your phone. There’s an e-mail from the office manager. She explains that they’ve resigned.

Why did they leave? Where did they go? Why did they do this to you? It doesn’t matter. Maybe they went as a practice group to another firm. Maybe they just can’t stand it anymore. Maybe they each went their separate ways. It doesn’t matter why they left. They’re gone.

This is not fiction. This is not a hypothetical. This happened.

Suddenly, the phone is ringing. Then it’s two phones, then more. No one is there to answer. No one works for you anymore.

What’s left? Where do you pick back up? How do you get this show back on the road?

Have You Taken These Three Critical Steps to Prepare for Unexpected Departures?

If you’ve been following my advice, then you’re good to go.

Have you…

  1. Been interviewing? You should always be interviewing so you’re ready when the opening occurs—especially if it’s unexpected.
  2. Built systems? The business is not the people; it’s the systems. Build systems and refine them constantly. Your new people need to know what to do, and the systems are the instruction manual for getting you back to where you left off.
  3. Outsourced? Did you outsource these 19 responsibilities? I could write a book on outsourcing, I have, in fact, and it walks you through finding great people who take ownership of your work. If you’ve outsourced, then it’s likely that the phone will still be answered, the plants will still be watered, the mail will keep getting processed, etc. Sure, you still have a BIG problem, but it’ll be smaller than it would otherwise be.

Interviewing, systems, and outsourcing make you less vulnerable to the comings and goings of people. If you got a cold, clammy, sick feeling when I described that empty office, then it’s time to get to work addressing the crisis before it happens.

Hopefully, your people won’t disappear on you. But, especially in a small office, it’s not all that far-fetched. It happens. When you’re small, you’re vulnerable—unless you take the precautions I’ve mentioned.

Get to work. Start interviewing, build systems, and outsource whatever you can. Once you take those steps, you’ll be able to sleep again. And you won’t wonder what you’re going to find each day as you return to the office.

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