Dan Counsell

People will leave

Thursday, 11th June 2020

When I first started hiring people it was all new and exciting. The company was finally growing after many years of just me working alone. I was looking forward to getting more people on board so we could do more, build more, make better products.

I certainly wasn't qualified to interview and hire people. When you start a company by yourself, it's down to you to hire people. It's down to you to do everything.

In the first few years of hiring people I honestly never once thought that these people might one day leave. It just never crossed my mind.

The first few people I hired were in a somewhat haphazard fashion. A laid back interview, more like a friendly chat. A lot of the time I just went with my gut instinct. Thankfully it mostly worked out.

I've been very fortunate to have had a succession of great people to work with, to help build the business.

After a few years, the company had grown to around half-a-dozen full-time employees, things were going well.

Then one day one of my staff said to me "can we have a quick chat?"

Not thinking much of it, I said: "Sure, what's up?"

He told me he was leaving and handed me a letter of resignation. Ouch.

Drawing of someone leaving a job

I was calm as I listened to his reasons why, but it was painful to hear. When you've built a small company, it feels like you're just a bunch of friends building some products, it's all very personal.

Later that evening I remembering thinking "Oh shit, how am I ever going to replace him, what the hell am I going to do now!". This was swiftly followed by me asking myself, "why would he want to leave? what if other people leave?”

It was all rather unsettling and stressful.

A few weeks passed and I got over it, you have too. Over time the business adapted and changed, and things worked out.

When someone decides to leave a business, it's a waste of time trying to convince them to stay, they've already made up their mind, mentally they've moved on. Don't offer more money, because if they do stay, they'll end up resenting the job and will probably leave within the next six months anyway.

By trying to convince them to stay your just deferring the problem. Get the issue over with and move on.

When someone leaves a business it's a great time to re-evaluate things and look at the bigger picture.

Don't automatically rush to hire a replacement. Perhaps the business has changed over time and you'd like to move things in a slightly different direction. You might need someone with a different skill-set.

Try to make the best out of what can be a stressful time within any small business and use it to your advantage.