Art of Letting Go
“Boss, I’ve decided to take a job offer at another company.”
Imagine being punched really hard, right in the stomach. And after that, rather than recouping in few minutes, envision the stun and torment gradually transforming into dissatisfaction, outrage and fear.
“We’re SO close! How are we going to continue providing the quality game art outsourcing services thus far?”
“Don’t you realize how important you are to our company and your colleagues?”
“How could you do this to me? To the team?”
It doesn’t matter how many articles you read on how to keep your employees happy and satisfied. It doesn’t matter the amount of freedom you have given them. It doesn’t matter how you have had instilled true purpose and meaning in their work. It doesn’t matter that they run counter to everything I’ve learned about managing employee exits since then. It was what I felt right then and there. Betrayal and sadness, and despair about the future.
It isn’t a great deal when an employee leaves a large company that has 50-200+ employees or a larger 1000+ corporation. Especially if the company had already built a great brand that young and talented people want to work for. However, for example, when an employee leaves a 2-person company, that’s 50% of the workforce gone in an instant. And for a promising yet small game art outsourcing company in Chennai, it’s simply a fact of life: and every so often, it happens.
It happened to us, it may have already happened to most of you, and it’ll most certainly happen to future startup companies all over the world.
I’ve experienced a lot since that day in the early months of Castle Black Studios’ history. I’ve learned how to handle employee departures on a personal level, I’ve learned how to manage and nurture a game art production team to decrease the chance of departure, and I’ve learned how to protect the company from the inevitability of good artist leaving. But most importantly, I have also learned how to, despite the reluctance, let my employees go and take the next step in their careers.
Today, I’m sharing the most important and valuable lessons about some of the stumbles and the power of letting go in our journey.
It’s Not Personal
As a founder and entrepreneur, you’re willing to sacrifice no less than 10 years of your life to buckling down on a solitary objective: transforming something you’re extremely passionate about into a successful business.
Here is a concept that most entrepreneurs and founders do not understand.
It is crazy to expect the same mentality from your employees!
Everyone wants to have best employees possible. But here’s the thing: top employees don’t just work hard for your company. The work hard for themselves. They’re consistently working to better their skills and standard in life.
You have to help them achieve their own personal goals in some way but in reality, you simply can’t provide that for everyone. For most employees, you don’t have what they are looking for in the next step of their career. It might be an executive position or a manger role, or any other number of roles that just does not exist or become available in a small startup environment.
If you want to hire the best (and we do), expect that they will behave like any talented and ambitious people would.
Build Culture, and Documents
Despite your best efforts to keep them happy, employees will move on. Here are three golden rules to protect your startup and ensure that things go as smoothly as possible when that happens.
1. No one is indispensable
With limited resources and huge ambitions, you want to hire employees who can do work that nobody else can, right? That might be a valid intuition. But no single employee should hold the keys to the Castle, because when they leave, nobody will be able to get inside.
A good question to ask yourself is, “what if employee A or B quit tomorrow, what would happen to us?” Think and act on that question for every single one of your employees. Make sure to build a great team culture by treating everyone equally and letting them know that you value everyone in the team equally, despite the job complexity. If there are tasks that only a single person knows how to do, then you have a problem.
Fortunately, there’s a solution to that problem.
2. Keep your team happy
By building a strong culture in the company, you don’t just build a better and enjoyable working environment, you also improve your chances of succeeding as a company.
When your team have great trust in you and realize that you have their best interest at heart, they won’t feel threatened to let you know they are leaving or even considering it. And when they do decide to leave, they will want to do it on best terms possible. They will be willing to help with the transition: referring a replacement, training that replacement or any other help you might consider asking them.
The transition gets even more smoother when you follow the next rule.
3. Document everything!
Your first few employees will acquire a great deal of knowledge about the company’s work. They will know what has worked and what has not. How to deal with certain clients and list of suppliers that they have contacted. Someday when these employees leave, someone else who replaces them will need to know how to do those things too.
This is the reason why documenting or keeping records of everything your first few employees know is paramount to your business. As the business grows and new employees come on, either to grow the team or replace departed employees, bringing people up to speed becomes a huge challenge.
Here in Castle Black Studios, we have replaced emails with Workplace, a communication tool, which saves all employee conversations and documents online. We can, whenever deemed necessary, search for it and provide it to new employees. It also provides a great source of communication with our clients with our game art outsourcing productions. You can use Workplace or any other similar communication tool with similar functions to effectively replace emails and document almost anything related to your employee knowledge.
Be a Teacher
It is equally important in being a successful human being as it is to being a successful CEO. I take great pride in being a teacher more than a CEO, because the thing that I learned is that almost all teachers will always want their students to be more successful and better than themselves.
Sometimes, your employees will outgrow the role you’ve given them. And if you can’t provide that next step, then it is only right that someone else should. They’ve worked hard and brought value to you and your company. Maybe they will again someday.
But for now, accept that it’s their time, wish them the best, and mean it.
You probably won’t take this advice the very first time a key employee quits. I’d certainly heard it before, and it didn’t help me. Emotion takes over. You learn these lessons over time.
But I hope that this blog post makes you smarter and better about it than I was.
TAGS:Art of Letting GoShaik RamzanBest EmployeesQuitting JobHow to deal with employees quitting jobgame art outsourcingame company in chenniagame art company in chennaiart productionemployee departurefounderentrepreneurpassionpersonal goalsemployee satisfactionindispensibleteam culturedocument everythingworkplaceteacher