I Lost 25% of My Team - Here's What Happened Next

By VICKY BROWN

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We’re a small team, so losing even one person makes us feel the gap.  Well, recently we lost 3 – that’s right – 3 people.  All in the span of a month.  And because we rarely have any turnover – it was all the more jarring.

So no, we aren’t immune from the effects of the Great Resignation.  The lure of having a remote job, or working from home most of the time can be really compelling.  And while we are adopting a hybrid model, the fact is we’re going to be in the office the majority of the time – and that just isn’t the right fit for some.

So, after 25% of the team exited stage left, what happened next?

Well first, before you ask the question – yes, we did take the opportunity to take a close look at the office environment, how we manage, development opportunities for the team, equipment and perks – after all, we do practice what we preach.  And yes, as a result, some of those areas are getting a facelift.

Next –  while the team could temporarily absorb much of the work, there was still a gap – so I went back into daily client work.  That was a bit of future shock to my system, and the team.  I had actually gotten to the point where the team was the front line, and I wasn’t doing client work anymore – in fact I haven’t for quite a while.  So there was a big learning curve.  Systems and processes had been created or enhanced; and, of course, in the process I saw a few things I though needed changing or upgrading.

…I realized – the client just wants excellent service and continuity.  And we could certainly take care of that.

You know, I actually recommend that leaders get on the front lines, sit in with customer service, do some client projects every once in a while.  It’s so valuable to see your processes from the ground up.  When you can add that to your overall vision of where you want the company to go, you end up with masterful solutions.

That’s what happened in our case.  I realized we have developed some great tools for holding and tracking client data – but it needed to be more integrated and all in one place.  So, as a result we’re implementing  a project management/collaboration tool across the organization.  Everything organized in one place – I can’t wait.

And then there’s notifying the clients.  This is the one I always worry about.  For some weird reason (well, actually it is – of course, fear based), I get a pit in my stomach at the thought of telling a client their HR Business Partner has left the company.  Imagine how it felt telling them that both people on their team were leaving the company.  They’re bound to think – what is going on over there that there’s such turnover.  It doesn’t matter to them that one person had been here for 4 years, and the other for almost 15 – all they know is their team is gone.  Yuck – it gives me a headache jus to think about it.

But then, I realized – the client just wants excellent service and continuity.  And we could certainly take care of that.  And yes, certainly a higher level of check in is smart – so they know we’re on top of their needs.  But you know, almost to a person, our clients said OK thanks for taking care of us – and they just kept going.

My point is, you’re going to have to stand on your brand.  Through highs and lows, when mistakes happen (because they will happen), when you have to change members of a client’s support team – your brand, or reputation, is the thing that will pull you through.  It’s the things you do every day, how you interact with the client every day, how they have experienced your customer service, every day – that matters.  That’s your reputation.  That’s the brand you’ve built.

Of course, the next thing on the list was getting new team members.  That’s where our staffing division lept into place.  I have to take a moment here to say – out loud, to whomever is listening – we have an amazing Staffing Director.  Her instincts are spot on, and she came up with some great candidates for us.  And I’m over the moon at who will be joining the team

And that leads me to onboarding.  With new team members coming on board – and because that rarely happens for us – it made me take a good, long look at our onboarding process.  It’s still pretty good, but again, a facelift was in order.  So that’s in process as well.

So all in all – we’ll certainly miss our former colleagues, but it turned out to be a great opportunity.  An opportunity for us to throw everything up in the air and see what needed revamping.  And an opportunity to gain insight into how our clients experience us and how we support them.  And an amazingly valuable opportunity for me, as a leader and personally, to take a good hard look at the team, how I’m leading them, and ask the question, do they have the tools they need to do their best work.

So, change is good, we wish our former colleagues great success, and thank them for being the catalyst to our next level up.

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