How do you deal with the stress of trying to retain employees?

“The thing I hate most about my job as a CEO of a small startup is trying to please and retain employees. Good employees always seem to find better opportunities, and I keep working on offering them even better ones, especially since finding talents in IT seems so hard these days.

It gets too stressful worrying about employees and how things might start falling apart if someone important leaves. I dread the idea of having to work 100000% instead of 1000% trying to covering up for someone who left while looking for a replacement.

How do you deal with this?”

Answer by Felix Velarde:
Everybody leaves. I’ve had several companies over twenty-one years. I used to get really upset when a valued, nice or critical member of staff resigned. In fact the phrase “Um, Felix, have you got five minutes?” used to conjure up special feelings of despair.

Then I realised that everybody leaves. No matter how good the conditions, how great their immediate boss, how much they make in bonuses or share options or how well they get on with their team, everybody leaves.

So you have to get over it. I got to the point where I decided that when they were leaving it was because some motivating factor had overcome their resistance to changing their job – and if the motivating factor was my shortcomings it was too late (though I might examine that and make some changes for the next time), and if it was the pull of something better I’d already lost the battle.

That realisation made it much easier for me. I no longer worried if someone critical would leave, because I knew they would at some point. I started planning for it. I learned more about succession management, and started coaching people. I learned that if you encourage people to learn as much as they can and take on more responsibility as quickly as possible, they’d not only serve your company better, they’d have more fun and be more productive, and the really good ones stay a little longer. But when they do leave, they’ve been coaching their replacement. So everyone wins.

Eventually, I too left. My old company no longer has its founding CEO. I bet they’re all super-relieved, and I hope they’re coaching people to take over their jobs so they can leave too 😉

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