If a company's greatest asset is its employees, then sudden changes to key employee positions can be a crisis to any company.
There is a perception by many companies that their key personnel are part of a team that cannot be disbanded. The problem is that many people in the business world are always looking for their next step up. If your company cannot provide that step up, then your key personnel will leave, even in today's economy.
In some cases, there is nothing you can do to prevent sudden personnel changes. But you can have plans in place that help your company recover quickly.
Handling personnel changes is a process that begins with the human resources recruiting methods. A good company is always accepting resumes and interviewing prospective candidates, even when that company is not hiring. The more information you have on prospective employment candidates, the quicker you can react when a key employee suddenly leaves the company.
The human resources group should constantly be screening incoming resumes and passing good candidates on to the departmental managers. The managers, in turn, should spend some time talking to good candidates to make sure that the database is always full of prospects.
Another way that your company can be prepared for sudden personnel changes is for your managerial and executive teams to network constantly with others in the industry to keep a list of potential, experienced replacements.
If you have a key manager that has left your company to go work for a competitor, then it is only fair that you also be able to reach into the competition and find a suitable replacement. Executives know what to look for in executive candidates and managers know what to look for in potential new managers. This is why you will see managers and executives from competing organizations well aware of each other. There is a lot of subdued networking going on that is never acknowledged.
Of course, the best resource for replacing managers or executives that suddenly leave the company is your own employee population. If you have employees that appear to be management material, then you need to a program in place that encourages those traits and grooms employees to potentially be managers in the future. Even if you have no managerial positions to put these candidates in, you are still developing workplace leaders that will help your company to thrive.
You will notice that most companies are hesitant to promote current company managers to executive positions when a key executive quits the company. In many cases, a company would rather hire an experienced executive from a competitor than put an inexperienced manager in the position of being a company executive.
The crisis caused by the sudden loss of key personnel can be shocking at first. But if your company has a contingency plan in place to deal with this kind of event, then you will make adjustments and have a new person in place in time to keep the company operating and profitable.
Jan Kantor is a Southwest Florida business consultant and executive coach. For more information, or to contact him regarding workplace solutions, his website is www.jankantor.com.