“But Dave – I don’t want to lay Bob off. He’s been with me since the beginning!”
Loyalty is a wonderful thing, but don’t be loyal to a fault. If you have staff members or a team that helped you get where you are, that doesn’t mean you can afford to overlook their inadequacies. Remember, as you revamp processes, you’ll also be creating new roles, and once the initial fear is over, most people love growing into new roles and advancing their careers. Don’t put people in those roles, though, just because they’ve been with you forever. Make sure they fit. And remember that the skill sets you needed during the downturn phase of the business storm cycle that I call the Avalanche aren’t the same ones you’ll need during other phases. Each phase of the Business Storm Cycle has its own demands, and you’ll need to be able to not only scale to them but also prepare for them with the necessary training for everyone involved.
If you want to be loyal to your existing staff, then you’ll need to empower them to learn news skills and fill unfamiliar roles. Bring someone in to coach them and give them the additional training they need. They may need to follow external leadership during this phase, but once they’ve learned what it’s all about, they’ll have the skills they need for next time.
During this time, you also need to clearly define jobs in terms of processes rather than specific people. When you’re clear about what the processes are, your company won’t be thrown off course when someone leaves or retires. New hires will be able to fit smoothly into a well-documented process. You’ll be able to hand them a process that’s spelled out on paper, with a technology that supports it. Despite employee changes, each role will continue to function, even though it’s filled now by a different individual.
During your consolidation phase, don’t focus on who is sitting in the chairs; instead, make sure you have the exact chairs you need, regardless of who fills them.