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Change is good Featured

5:47am EDT July 19, 2002

Change in a business environment is natural, and, if managed the right way, can be beneficial.

Here are some quick tips to help you along the way:

Plan for change

Assume your company will replace roughly 20 to 30 percent its employees every year, and make contingency plans to lessen the impact. Some steps to ease the pain:

Always be in recruiting mode. Identify blue chip candidates, interview them, background check them, keep in touch about their availability.

Cross-train employees everywhere possible. As departments lose talent, other employees will need to pick up the slack, at least temporarily.

Budget for turnover and the training costs involved in making a new employee productive.

Document mission-critical processes, so new, untrained employees can step right in.

Outsource noncritical services. If it's not part of the core business, why do you want to be in that field? Let someone else manage turnover, benefits and other productivity-draining administrative tasks.

Welcome the benefits of turnover

With new employees come new ideas, new perspectives and new experience. Sometimes the needed push for a new system or production makeover is an idea from outside the way you do things.

New people are usually itching to prove what they can do in a new environment -- many times they bring an energy and drive that's needed to move a project, improvement or service forward.

Turnover can be motivational

Sometimes, companies become complacent, willing to accept unquestioningly what is done and why. An influx of new people can bring challenges to those corporate assumptions.

By creating an environment that welcomes critical thinking, you can boost creativity. And rewarding those willing to challenge assumptions and find a better way to do things serves notice to the clock-watchers that a new wind is blowing through the company, and they can fight it, sail with it or find another pond. Don Shadrake is vice president and CIO of The Reserves Network/The FocIS Group.