When someone amazing leaves the company

There is a saying inside of companies that is often repeated, namely: “no one is irreplaceable”

It may sound harsh but its meant to clarify that a company needs to be strong enough to succeed and innovate even if someone amazing leaves the company. If a company grows and depends on a single person than something is wrong.

Of course, that is easier said than done.

When someone amazing leaves the company it can become a big challenge on many levels.

1 – Morale. The existing employees wonder inside and outloud, ‘hey, is this a good place to work? Why is he/she leaving?’

2 – Amazing people are hard to find regardless of the macro economic conditions.

3 – Things slow down. All of sudden the amazing person who got shit done or provided leadership isn’t in the boat and stuff doesn’t happen as fast or efficient or with as much quality.

(keep in mind I’m not talking about the person that suffers from the smartest guy in the room disease. I don’t have much love for those folks and i don’t consider them amazing.)

I’ve seen “amazing people” leave companies for a few reasons. Some are avoidable and some aren’t even with the best intentions.

Here are a few things founders and senior managers at companies should keep in mind to avoid losing amazing people.

1 – Assume they are getting calls all the time. Don’t carry the arrogant “where are they going to go” syndrome where you convince yourself that you are paying them a lot or they have a ton of stock or a great title or whatever. These folks are always getting calls from other companies and founders.

2 – Loyalty is earned. It’s a two way street with relationships. Don’t expect people to be loyal if you don’t have the same feelings in return. It also takes time and shared experiences.

3 – Avoid doing anything unnatural.  Its awkward and uncomfortable for everyone when an amazing person says they are leaving and then management comes in with a killer counter offer. I’ve seen startups do this. Amazing person is about to leave and suddenly they get the keys to the kingdom. Big companies do this all the time as well. What does that say to existing employees? What does it say to the individual involved.

4 – Get proactive. Think about how to get your amazing people involved in more things not less. Give them more challenges. Get their feedback. Get their advise. Take their suggestions to heart. Compensate them properly. Put in a performance plan so they know you appreciate how they are doing and why they deserve more.

After all, they are amazing for a reason :)