Saturday, March 22, 2014

HR Challenges in Senior Management Exits

This issue needs immediate attention of HR Managers. How do we deal with Senior Management separations happening at regular intervals.
Management comprises of eminent experts who play a key role in companies growth and thereby contribute significantly enhancing both business prospects as well as higher profitability. What happens if there are high profile exits of a Software 'services companies ? Can the management sit back and relax showing total indifference to the separations.
We could see the event turning out to be a dampener to the overall morale and productivity. Employees working under these leaders tend to become demotivated and there will be total lack of direction to move forward in both business development and project deliverables. HR plays a crucial role in analyzing as well as coming out with a quick action plan to back fill these positions or better still move people within the organization to fill the void left by these Senior level exits.
From business perspective the following are the implications of high profile exits
1. Customer Dissatisfaction :
For any of the roles where these Managers are SPOCs or Account / Delivery Managers the customers are bound to make it an issue and in most cases pressurize the management to ensure continuity and also minimize the risks by having either present incumbent to continue or have a quick replacements done to ensure continuity and smoother operations.
2. Shadow Impact
In most Software Development Companies the bonding between the Leader and Managers are quite strong. More so in case where employees who are quitting after spending substantial period in excess of 15-20 years in the same company. They develop a strong bonding and any separation will definitely have a rub off effect. Sooner than later we could see few more leaving the company and following their leaders in a new set up.
3. Continuity
Unless properly planned there is likely to be disruption in the service offerings due to the absence of senior management staff. HR has to grapple with this and try to have well thought out plan to ensure that there is a business continuity. Companies will discuss withe clients how they are going to deal with separations and discuss in detail action items for implementation to avoid disruption.
4. Transition
It becomes very critical for the companies to ensure that the deliverables are not impacted by the high profile exits, Since in most cases there is a window of 3 months from the date of communication of quitting and actual relieving , it becomes imperative that the new incumbent has to come to speed and fill the void created due to the resignations.
Let us evaluate what HR should be pro actively doing in these kind of scenario where the companies are witnessing high level attrition
1. Succession Planning
Preparing a list of possible candidates who can be either promoted internally or moved from within the company, Succession Planning plays a key role in withstanding any kind of shocks of quits from top jobs / positions. Being an ongoing continuous process SP can throw up interesting alternatives within a company paving way for smoother transitions.
2. Quick Back Filling -
Easier said than done. The recruitment cycle extends to minimum period of 4-6 months to select, induct a new incumbent. The hiring at senior levels is a time consuming process as there are very few candidates who match the job profile besides looking for a cultural fit
3. Team Morale
The team morale needs to be kept high and it should absorb any kind of shocks as a result of separations at the top level. Keeping the team in confidence in decision making helps in having sense of belonging and to a large extent helps in having higher morale.
4. Communication Management
Official communication management plays a key role at a time when the entire world and all stake holders - investors, employees and customers alike keep asking about these separations. A clearly worded statement from the top CEO as to the contributions made by the employees who are quitting and also reasons for separation (wherever possible) and a clearly defined future plans to meet the gap should be communicated in public. This goes a long way in better understanding of the situation and keeping the stake holders informed is key to their continued support in difficult times.
5. Expectations Management
As a leading survey most people quit a reasonably senior position only after they think through and often painful separation. Period reviews besides annual appraisals are opportunities which Management uses to gauge thinking of Senior Directors, keeping their career aspirations and mapping to companies growth and making efforts to keep them engaged are essential to curb attrition. An effort is always made to ensure that exits do not happen at regular intervals.
6. Exit Analysis
Through this exercise HR and Management will try to know the real cause for the separation. This happens once the employee made up his / her mind to quit. An independent and transparent discussions will help analyse root cause of un happiness. Follow up actions should follow to ensure that these exits are stopped to maximum extent possible.
This reminds me of a words of poet Alfred Tennyson wrote in "The Brooks" - "For Men may come men may go but I go on forever".
HR and Senior Management should not be seen as being indifferent and act as if they are not bothered and taking this in a casual manner will be disastrous as this kind of thinking will spread more unhappiness and lead to more and more separations at all levels - Senior Management, Middle Management and all. A right step at right time is bound to have a major impact and we all should be ready to face this challenge at all times.
Raghav HR Guru
Founder - HRinIndia

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