Your Employment Pipeline

employment pipelineWith the employment market tightening up, especially here in the Seattle market, it’s a good time to see what your pipeline looks like. What? You don’t have a pipeline? That’s the response that I get 99% of the time when I talk with small to mid-size company CEOs, so if that’s your response, you’re not alone.

Think of it like an EKG that suddenly dips – the challenge is to get the heart beating again in a regular rhythm. If you have an employee quit – even if they give you some notice – it will cause a significant dip in their productivity and usefulness and the performance of those around them. Once they’ve quit, regardless of their good intentions, the company is moving on without them and they know it. Worse is when you have to let someone go, this always causes shock and awe, both good and bad and that causes a dip in production too. Ever notice people slowing down to watch a car wreck on the freeway? Same goes with someone leaving the company. Employee attention will go to this issue and it will become a focus.

A pipeline of candidates is usually the last thing CEOs and owners of businesses are thinking about, however, it’s one of the best things to have to mitigate risk in your business. A mentor once told me that CEOs and leaders should always, always be recruiting. You need to be looking at people and seeing how or if they might fit into your organization in the future. The reality is the future arrives every morning and you need to be ready for it.

Start with your superstars and your key personnel. Who can replace them internally or externally? Is there a competitor that has some good folks? Take them to coffee or lunch, and get to know them. Ask around, who else might fit on your team if you grew or had an opening? The CEO’s job is to grow the company and grow the people, so why wouldn’t there be a pipeline of people waiting to get into the company? And how great would it be to have them ready when you are? People always find it flattering to be recruited and to be recruited even before there is a spot for them says you are strategic. That’s the place I would want to work – not one that is continuously scrambling to fill spots.

This is a great conversation to have with your executive team or managers. Who do they want to bring on? Let them lobby you as to why their picks are great ones. It becomes a conversation about abundance and growth vs. scarcity and loss. Don’t fear turnover, embrace it as an opportunity to upgrade and enhance the team. Start working on that pipeline today, you’ll be glad you did.

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