A good spoiler Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2007

It happens, probably more often than CEOs would care to admit, but it happens. You arrive at the office one day expecting the litany of the usual brush fires to deal with, but instead, find a real blazer — one of your key employees has submitted his or her resignation, and you were caught by surprise.

When that occurs, it’s most likely because you thought you knew your employee’s mindset, but you didn’t. You incorrectly assumed the person was happy with his or her job and committed to it, but sometime between the last time you checked and now, the situation changed. Suddenly, you and your company are unprepared to fill in the gap left behind, and you’re facing serious headaches or, in some cases, minor panic.

So what can you do to ensure you don’t find yourself in this scenario?

Plenty. Not only can you develop a plan that allows you and your team to step in seamlessly when a key employee or member of your senior management team leaves, but you can also take steps that let you accurately predict whether or not you’ve got someone on the precipice of walking out the door.

The contingency plan is probably the easiest. For that, simply determine who among your team will absorb specific tasks that allow you to meet short-term goals. But to become a great prognosticator — or at least appear like one — when it comes to employee actions, you’ll need to think a bit more strategically.

First, increase the frequency of how often you or your senior managers meet, as well as how often they meet with staff members for reviews or regular updates. If you’re like a growing number of executives nationwide, the annual performance review has morphed from a once-a-year occasion to something a bit more regular — quarterly or twice annual meetings. Departmentally, many managers now meet weekly or twice monthly with key staff members to gauge what’s going on beyond whether production schedules are being met.

These regular meetings not only provide an opportunity to let members of the team know where they stand — something they truly appreciate — but they also offer insight to employees’ perspectives of their jobs.

If that proactive mentality becomes ingrained in your corporate culture, then everybody wins. Nobody should be left unaware of a brewing employee resignation, and your company will always be prepared to move forward without the slightest hesitation.

Contact Editor Dustin Klein at dsklein@sbnonline.com