My family and I spent last night with friends at Crocker Park’s Liberty Fest. If you’re not from the Cleveland area, Crocker Park is what marketers call a “Life Style Center.” I call it a really nice outdoor shopping mall. Liberty Fest is Crocker Park’s take on a July 4th celebration, with music, dancing, and stilt walkers. It all culminates with a performance by the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and fireworks. With a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old, we were there for the fireworks.
A line of thunderstorms, though, wreaked havoc on the event’s timing. The fireworks, which were scheduled for 10 pm, did not go off until close to 11. As you could imagine, my kids were not the only ones getting antsy waiting … and waiting … and waiting, as we listened to the Cleveland Pops run through its litany of patriotic songs, led by the emceeing of a local morning radio host who made me remember why I love my Sirius/XM subscription.
As we waited, I got to thinking—why didn’t the event have a contingency plan. Evening thunderstorms are common in Cleveland in the summer. It could not be that difficult to have a back-up itinerary in the event that rain delayed the proceedings. The Pops could have played 5 songs instead of 15. The radio guy could have cut out his not-so-witty banter. And, fireworks could have gone off closer to 10 instead of closer to 11.
The same holds true for your business. I’m sure you have star employees, without whom your business would suffer. Yet, do you know if they are content with their job. Or, do they feel underpaid, under-appreciated, or overworked. Tomorrow, one could walk out the door. Do you have a plan to keep your operations running at peak performance? Or would the departure of even one employee grind your company to a temporary halt.
Employees aren’t indentured to you, and there is nothing you to do to guarantee each works for you until retirement. Yet, let me suggest three simple steps to help you plan for the contingency of a key employee leaving.
- Feedback: You cannot fix a problem that you don’t know exists. Talk to your employees. Gauge their level of contentment. Make adjustments where necessary to ensure, as best as possible, their continuity.
- Cross-training: In the event an employee leaves, having others cross-trained to perform their tasks will help you ease the transition until you find the right permanent replacement. It will also help you in the event of unexpected medical and other leaves of absences.
- Non-competition agreements: Even the most strongly drafted non-competition agreement cannot guarantee your keys employees won’t leave you. But, in the event that they do, these agreements will prevent the compounding of the harm by keeping these employees away from your chief competition.