As a leader you have to accept that it’s inevitable that at some point an employee is going to resign. It is a fact of life. The average tenure of an employee is roughly 3 years. An employee will typically spend the first-year learning how to perform the job. The second year is focused on performing well and improving processes and so on. Then in the third year, the mind naturally wanders to what is next. If there are no more chances to grow and develop in their existing team, then they will look to go elsewhere. As a leader, one of the biggest mistakes made when looking to replace an employee that is leaving, is to find someone to do the exact same thing.
Every resignation is an opportunity
Resignations can be seen as a negative by a leader, and to an extent that could be true. No one ever likes to lose a productive team member and if you have worked together for a while, you will have also built up a personal relationship with the person. But every resignation is actually an opportunity to upskill the capability of the team. Rather than look to instantly replace the person, by having the new person do exactly what the old person did, take a step back and actually think about the team as a whole.
A leader should look at the existing make up of the team and identify where the gaps are. If all of the team are great at doing administrative tasks and following orders, maybe you need someone in the team who can think about the work that is being done and suggest ways to make it more efficient. If you have a team of 5 salespeople and the 4 left are all great at sales, but typically spend 25% of their time doing admin which they hate. Instead of hiring another salesperson, hire someone who loves the admin, so that it frees them up to make more sales.
What will the next 3-5 years bring?
Leaders often love to ask this question to job applicants in an interview. But only the best leaders think about this when they are hiring for their teams. All industries are being disrupted by technology and pretty much whatever you do, is going to be done differently in the next few years. You need to have this in mind when looking at who you bring in to fill your vacancy. How things have been done, are not how things will be done. More importantly, very few people currently do things as they will be done in the next few years. This means that whoever you hire, has to have the potential to be trained and developed.
This means that you as a leader have to have a very clear idea of how and when this role will develop. What is the strategy for the team? How will each role in the team get the overall function to the end goal? If you do not have an end goal, then it is even more important that you take a step back and think about this. As a leader if you are not leading your team to a better future, at some point you are going to be replaced by someone who will. After all business results will suffer if you are doing things as they have always been done.