There was silence for a moment, followed by a barely audible gasp in the partner’s meeting, Fred’s leaving, so we need to recruit somebody new. The two partners looked worried, as they considered the problems and the workload. If you have ever thought like that, you’ll enjoy this article about how staff vacancies can be an opportunity to improve the team roles, processes and productivity in your firm. At the very least, don’t just go for a direct replacement lest you suffer the dangers of growing by osmosis.
Time for change
When a team member leaves the easiest thing is to quickly replace them with somebody that can fulfil the same roles in the team. Trouble is, that may not be the best answer.
What’s more it is compounded by not thinking about the team roles and how people fulfil them. One firm had a whole team full of people that got on really well, were hugely energetic, but nobody in the firm was any good at follow through and finishing off the fine detail.
When a member of your team leaves, it’s a great opportunity to adjust the team roles, the skills the team have and the way the whole team works together.
Vacancy – opportunity or problem?
One of the big problems in small firms is that the time when you need to think the most about how you want to change things, is when you are the most stressed and have too much on!
It may be too late to think about team roles and how the work is allocated, when you’re desperate and up against it. The time to lay some of the ground work might be now.
Play for 30 minutes first.
The first step is to think about the processes that exist in your firm. Process Mapping doesn’t have to be hard, take hours or involve complex diagrams. You can do something useful with some thought, some PostIt® notes and some time. If the output is a wall with lots of sticky notes that shows you what goes on in the firm and who does what you’ve got it right. You could even get your team to help you.
The great thing about using PostIt® notes is that you can move them around. Now that you have a map of the different tasks and processes that are being done, group them so you can see who does what (or use different colours). Ask yourself, “does it really make sense”?
You might do this piece of the work before there’s a vacancy. When there’s a vacancy, refresh your thinking. This could be the time to move the PostIt® notes around till they make more sense.
Would adjusting some roles allow you to recruit somebody different?
Adjusting team roles in your firm.
If you’ve started to think about reallocating some of the tasks that people do, it’s also time to think about the way the team work.
It may seem uncomfortable to bring a totally different personality type into your firm, but it could well be the best thing you’ve ever done. Adding a detail conscious person to a firm of dynamic “go-getters” means you’re less likely to slip up.
Adding somebody outgoing and lively to a team of introverted detail conscious people could allow you to start changing the way clients get served.
When you have thought about the roles you want the new person to do, and the skills they need, it’s time to improve the way you interview – read “Competency based interviews
The best time to begin
There’s an old saying:
With this exercise you really can start thinking about it now, you can move the notes around, you can involve (or not) your team and you’re ready for when you next have a vacancy.