I can’t stress enough the importance of good employees to ensure the success of your business. I always counseled managers to create an inventory of potential employees with whom they had contact, just as salespeople have for their potential sales. Often, my non-sales managers would ask why they needed to do this if they were not currently looking to fill a position. I can’t tell you how many times I have been blindsided by someone whom I considered to be a “solid/safe” employee. That employee resigned for what they perceived to be a better opportunity, suddenly sending my department into a tailspin. The old ways of recruiting (putting an ad in the paper asking for résumés when you have an opening) are as passé as landlines and floppy disks. Today networking, whether it be on-line or in person, is the method many managers are using to look for their future employees. If you have created a working environment that attracts people, your pool of potential employees doesn’t necessarily need to come from the current unemployed. You should always have a few people with whom you stay in contact by having the occasional lunch, or drinks after work, just to touch base and keep the contact active. It isn’t necessary to make overt gestures, or even let on that this person has been pegged by you as a potential future employee. It is helpful, however, to keep a list or a file of the people in your inventory so you can act quickly if they are needed.
I mentioned early in my career as a manager I was given the responsibility for the business office of a television station in Charleston, South Carolina. As I said, it was a stimulating environment. Probably the most fulfilling staff position I have ever had. With that said, the first few months challenged me. The department I entered into was about as dysfunctional as I have ever experienced. Earlier I touched on the accounts receivable commission plan manipulation. In addition, the department was filled with people who had been given no guidance and were left to come and go as they pleased. To say the least, when I arrived and started enforcing our work hours and lunch hours, I met a lot of resistance. However, it was not only the basic business environment rules, it was the lack of ownership for individual jobs that had me pulling my hair out. I continued to make demands on the department employees until one day about a month after I had arrived, everyone in the department quit. On the same day. I had not at this point made any contacts in the area and was left to traditional methods to fill the positions before I literally sank under the weight of all the work that needed to be done. The only reason I mention this epic fail as a manager is to emphasize that these things do happen. I hope that if it happens to you, you’ll be much better prepared to handle it than I was.