Send your staff for interviews...
I'm considering implementing a policy at Deep Blue Sky that once a year all staff should go for at least one job interview somewhere else.
It's not mad. Here's why...
To build a great company you need great people who believe what you believe in. You also need people who are entrepreneurial, who have drive, who are initiative and who have passion.
The problem with entrepreneurial people is that however loyal they might be they're never going to stick around for ever. Ironically it's the ones who do stick around who are often those with little entrepreneurial spirit, who have little drive and passion and therefore the people you don't really want.
It is the true measure of a great business therefore that it survives — or even thrives — on the turnover of its staff. Great businesses are able to do this because the business itself has clarity of purpose, a clear mission and a solid core of fresh people who understand that purpose & mission.
For many years, as a business owner, I worried about staff leaving; taking away knowledge & understanding, taking away expensive, hard-earned experience & training. I worried about the expense of finding new staff and teaching them our ways.
Above all I worried about the impact that staff turnover would have on clients and particularly the 'culture' of the business itself because I always believed the business was defined by the people in it.
Learning how false that assumption is means that today I have far more confidence in our future. If anything I now have far more trust and faith in my team. I don't want them to stay - I aspire for them to leave… and to go on to bigger and better things.
Deep Blue Sky is a small business — just eight or nine staff — and not one of them has been with us for more than a year. In reality half of that is growth of the business — a year ago we were only four — but half of it is turnover and what's striking is that we feel more like a team today than we ever have. We feel like we've worked together forever.
What's even more striking though is that I feel quite confident that they should all be dispensable.
Don't misunderstand. I love them all and I would be very sad, on a personal level, if any of them decided to move on but the point is that I don't think the business would skip a beat.
In fact I might go one step further and say that we're nearly at a point where *we're* all dispensable — myself included.
Many businesses we work with, both clients & suppliers have people in their ranks who are seen as being (or actually are) indispensable. Is that something you recognise in your own organisation? In my organisation, historically, one of those people has been me.
The truth is that indispensable people, at any level, are symptomatic of major problems in an organisation. They illustrate that there is either a lack of clarity of purpose, a lack of process or both.
If you expect to make your business grow effectively you need to put yourself in a position where you would happily send that formerly indispensable member of staff, or any member, for an interview at a competing firm.
To be able to do so will give you the confidence that your company is itself strong and clearly defined. It will demonstrate that the business has in place the right structure and process to allow it to grow but more fundamentally it will demonstrate that you and your team have a clear enough vision and sense of purpose that its essence can survive without one of its rank.
If you're too frightened to do this then perhaps you've identified a problem in the business which you can now work to solve.
The reality is that doing so will also give your staff a supreme sense of confidence that they're in the right job, a strong validation of why they come to work... and if they don't get that sense and end up accepting a job elsewhere then you've lost someone who doesn't believe in what your organisation believes, who doesn't fit and who you are all better off without.
Incidentally I have an article coming up that explains how to put in place all of the processes which help to ensure your business can practically survive staff turnover. If you'd like to read that when it's posted why not let me email it to you at the time?
So be brave, be confident that you're all there for the right reasons and once in a while, try the grass on the other side of the fence.