According to the Bureau of Labor, the media number of years that an employee stays at one job is 4.4 years. If you’re ages 25-34, that number drops to 3.1 years. Compared to the industrial revolution when employment tenure was significantly longer, today, it’s not a matter of if, but when you will leave your job.
Leaving is expensive. Best Buy once calculated that it cost them approximately $100,000 to hire, train and bring an employee up-to-speed after another had left…and that’s just what they can quantify. If you’re a small business, someone leaving can be devastating. I find that most small businesses don’t plan for this so when they do, it’s a big deal.
It doesn’t have to be.
5 Ways to Ensure a Smooth Employment Transition
As a manager, I’ve learned that if you live by the following five guidelines, not only will you make your job easier, but you will ensure that when transition comes the reputation you worked so hard to build will remain intact long after you leave:
- Create a how-to manual for your job – According to the book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to do About It [affiliate link], 95% of small businesses will fail after 10 years versus 5% of franchises. You know what the difference between the two is? Franchises come with a how-to manual, small businesses don’t. The takeaway? Think long-term and start building a how-to manual for your job or business today—and buy that book. Seriously, it’s one of my top 10 business books.
- Work yourself out of a job – Your gifts and talents may not be replaceable, but your job is. If you do your job well, you should be able to identify whom your replacement will be when the time is right. What that means is that it’s time you begin to work yourself out of your job by training one or more people to do what you do every day.
- Manage Up – Take the time to learn and understand how to work with your boss. Believe it or not, a classic mistake by young employees is to think that people need to work with them. You’re wrong. Figure out what your boss needs from you and make sure you deliver every single time…in the way, style, format and method that is most helpful to them…not you.
- Make your boss look like a rock star – This is not about them, but you. Your job is to find ways to make sure that when your manager needs to shine, they can. The last thing you want is for them to be put into the spotlight and not be able to recall the information you have because you didn’t take the time to deliver. That will spell disaster and very well could lead you to the unemployment office.
- Think company first – If your job is only about you and your career path, please ignore everything you just read (if you read this far). If not, then it’s your obligation to put the company and it’s best interests first. Ultimately that means that 1-4 on this list are not an option. Why? Because when an employee transitions, being prepared makes it easier, less expensive and less stressful for everybody.
Let’s face it, eventually we’ll all settle into the “perfect” job and reason with ourselves that leaving is inconceivable. But, it’s simply not true. Whether it’s an expected departure like a new job, or unexpected, like sickness, an accident or being fired, change is inevitable.
In my experience, post employment reputations are determined based on the quality of notes and instructions you’ve prepared for the person coming behind you. Ignoring this important aspect of your job will often leave replacements frustrated and your reputation marred.
Working for the person coming behind you is a mantra that can never go wrong. While doing work like this can seem unnecessary and sometimes a complete luxury, it’s not. Stephen R. Covey, author of the best selling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People classifies this kind of work as Quadrant II: Important and not urgent. Take the time and do the work. You’ll never regret it. I promise.