Empty Management Offices Losses for Your Firm

It’s an all too familiar story. An employee — let’s call him Melvin — started working for your company as a summertime dock laborer. After graduating from the state university, he came back to you for his first full-time job, eventually working in just about every part of the company, from operations and safety to accounting, sales and human resources.

Melvin wore many hats, learned many jobs and fast-tracked into a vice president’s position before his 10th anniversary with the company. Then, to everyone’s surprise, he resigned. When he left the company, Melvin took a sizable chunk of experience, know-how and institutional memory with him so much so that months after Melvin’s departure, your human resources department is still looking for someone to fill his shoes.

Personnel experts say that a company loses upwards of $7,000 per day when key people leave — and that it takes 100 days or more to replace them.

So how do you find effective replacements for lost management talent as quickly as possible?

Begin by assessing the current market. Recent, extensive downsizing means talent is available, but recruiting mid- to top-level management takes time, particularly if you are trying to do it yourself.

Candidates must be screened, interviewed and matched with strategic corporate needs. Remember, too, that you don’t want to replace the lost employee; you want someone better.

If time is a factor, relying on an in-house recruiting team or your personal connections in the industry may not be to your best advantage. Unless you plan to use a specialized management search team that knows your industry, be prepared to have an open position for more than the 100-day average — and that can be tricky.

Employees who are shouldering part of the extra load will soon tire of the long hours needed to get their own work done as well as the work of the missing manager. Morale will suffer.

In Melvin’s case, the business team he headed up worked with other teams, forming interdependencies that are bound to suffer.

Productivity may go along at the same level at first, but after several weeks, expect it to plummet — bearing in mind that your new hire won’t magically restore it to the levels enjoyed before Melvin ‘s departure.

There can also be a domino effect when a key employee like Melvin leaves. Sensing that the work environment is now less stable, other employees may start looking themselves for other opportunities.

When important members of the management team leave, expect some marching in place until new leadership is found. If the lost team member was particularly strong, and the replacement particularly weak, you may even find that business development flatlines until the replacement’s replacement is found.

If the management vacancy in your company is immediately visible to your customers, be pre pared to lose their confidence, at the least, and, more than likely, some business if word spreads your firm is losing valuable team members like Melvin.

Because you are short-handed, you may feel compelled to put training or conferences on hold. That can cause frustration and stress and erode employee loyalty. It may even drive current employees to look elsewhere for opportunities.

A long-running vacancy at the managerial level can create a “reprieve” of sorts for marginal performers. Living with these lackluster talents may be costly.

In fact, until the management position is filled, the total corporate strategy may remain in limbo and that loss of forward progress may end up costing stockholders, as well as the confidence of primary stakeholders.

Whenever important managers move on, minimizing the fallout of this corporate loss becomes a priority for upper-level managers. The ultimate task is to fill the empty office with bright, new talent as quickly as possible.

To expedite the process, take a look around at the management search companies available. Look for a recruiter who knows the industry, who is experienced in hiring key positions in the field and who is well-connected with the network of upper-level managers responsible for the best results in the industry.

Don’t be afraid to demand the best. Expect to be treated as though your priorities are the only ones on the recruiters radar screen at the moment.

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