Tips for Replacing Lost Employees for Small Business
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Butts in the Seats

Anchor Advisors

The words “I quit” may signify the end for an employee, but for an employer, the words can mean the beginning of a long, often painful process.

When I was General Manager for a 120 person manufacturing company, my right-hand man left for a promotion at a nearby company. Almost immediately after, half the team followed him. I was left with half the resources, but still had to accomplish the same goals. That’s when I learned about the importance of “Butts in the Seats.”

As each person left for better opportunities I tried to take on their essential duties while searching for their replacement. Covering for the VP of Operations wasn’t too bad since he had competent people below him. But when the HR person quit – and she was the only person in the department – I needed to get something done fast!

Most of us are not in a situation where we have lost half our staff, but even being down by one person can be a significant hit to our effectiveness. The longer we go shorthanded, the more it impacts our ability to reach our desired goals. If a leader is judged on performance, then minimizing time with an open seat is imperative. Yet some managers take four, five and even six months to fill an open position.

An efficient and effective hiring process requires three things: a clear and effective job description, a reliable means of sourcing candidates and a quick evaluation process. Let’s look at these one at a time.

Effective Job Description

Starting the hiring process without a job description is like going on a series of blind dates – you end up meeting candidates others think would be good for you. By having a job description, which includes requirements, responsibilities and rewards, you are clearly communicating what you are looking for to potential candidates and sources of candidates. Job descriptions should always be updated before you start the hiring process to make sure that all information is current and relevant.

Reliable Source of Candidates

Few of us would try to sell a product without first thinking about the best means of acquiring customers. Yet, many of us simply hand the responsibility over to the HR person and expect candidates to walk in the door! If you have done a search like this before, you may know where to find the best candidates. If you haven’t searched for a similar position, then ask around. Someone you know may have and could help you with some sources for leads.

While big job boards are popular these days, you probably won’t find the qualified candidates that you need there. You need the best group of candidates – and you need them quickly. A targeted approach, such as through an industry group, will likely bring in the candidate of choice. I know from experience that posting a job with the local CPA society, for example, has turned up lots of qualified leads for financial positions. Or, perhaps there is a recruiter with a deep pool in a particular area.

Quick Evaluation Process

You have two goals when hiring a new employee. The first is to fill an open position. The second is to fill an open position with the best candidate available. What’s the distinction between these two? It’s time. You shouldn’t settle for second rate, but you also shouldn’t wait for Prince Charming. After you meet one round of candidates, evaluate them and try to hire one. Repeat as needed, but remember, once you have seen 10 candidates, you have probably seen all the options. Make a decision – and fast! If you had an effective job description and a reliable source of candidates, your evaluation should be a piece of cake. If you wait too long, some other company may snatch your best candidate.

Once you hire your employee, make sure to properly orient, train and coach him or her. Again, time is of the essence. Get that “Butt in the Seat” quickly – there’s work to be done!

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