Guest Editorial: Gone, But Not Forgotten
If you’ve been in this business for any time at all, you’ve probably lost a few good employees to other contractors. When it happens, it hurts.
Most of us let our emotions get involved and essentially disown these people, just because they are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. You vow never to re-hire them again and the day they leave is the last day you ever talk to them. They’re gone forever.
But why? If these people were good employees, aren’t they still good techs, installers, sales people, etc.? Just because they left your company to pursue greener grass, doesn’t change the fact that they are good at what they do. I know it hurts, but get over it. Business is business and your job is to put the very best people in front of your customers.
Don’t hold it against someone if they are trying to better their situation. You would if you were them.
The first thing you need to know is why they felt they needed to go somewhere else to find what they need. If you don’t know the “real” answers to that question, you’ll continue to lose good people. If you’re not paying market rate compared to your competitors, then pay. If your benefits are lacking, then change them. If you’re losing people because you’re a bad boss, then fix yourself. Do whatever it takes to make your company the best company for them or anyone else to work for. This is a cutthroat business and the competition for good people is fierce.
So make a list right now of every single person who has ever left your company that did a good job while they were working for you. I’m guessing that the list probably contains at least one person for every year you’ve been in business, if not more. Now, call the last phone number that you had for each of them and see if it’s still current.
Yes, I want you to call them.
RecruitIf their numbers have changed, track them down. Be a recruiter! Go online and do a search, look in your phone book, call someone else that you know who’s friends with them. Make it your mission to get back in touch with them and, when you call, don’t ask them if they want to come back to work for you. Instead, tell them that you were just thinking about them the other day and wanted to see how they are. I hope you took the time to get to know them while they were employed with you, and you know a little about their interests and their families.
You have to rebuild the relationships before you can get what you want. Ultimately, you want to get them to come back to work for you, but you’re not there yet. Remember, they left your company for a reason and, over time, you need to reveal that you and/or your company has changed. Once they realize that working for you again could be a good thing, they’ll probably ask if you’re hiring.
Does any of this sound familiar? It should. It’s all about relationships and making sure that both people are getting out of it what they need. It’s no different than dating or marriage. Any of you that have been involved in a break-up, a separation or even a divorce, know exactly what I mean. Look, people are people and everyone makes mistakes.
So now that you’ve opened up the line of communication, stay in touch. Give these people a call every month or two just to see how things are.
Now, about those people that just left your company or for those who will leave in the future. Make a note to call them about 30 days after they’ve left to see how the new job is going. I know, the wound hasn’t healed yet, but you need to open the lines of communication as soon as possible.
Let them know that you understand that they needed to do what they felt was best for them and their families and that there are no hard feelings. Tell them on that first call that everyone misses them, they were great as employees and that you hope they’ve found the right fit. But let them know that if they ever want to talk, to pick up the phone and give you a call. But don’t ask them to come back to work for you; it’s much to soon.
Stay in touch and make them feel like your door is always open and that they could come back if they wanted to, without actually saying it. The fact is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. There are a lot of companies that do a really good job of selling someone on coming to work for them, but just don’t deliver. People change jobs all the time only to find out that it wasn’t what they thought it was. People leave for another dollar an hour only to realize that the money wasn’t as important as all the intangibles.
If you are serious about providing the best service for your customers, you simply have to employ the best people. You should never lose touch with good people in this industry, and you should always be willing to re-hire a good person.