Two-business-womenIn a recent conversation with a business owner, I asked how his role had changed in the last three years as his business has grown.

Year 1:  He set the pace and tone of the culture he wanted his team to embody.  He spent much of his time perfecting systems and making sure his team was onboard with the core values they had established.  He identified and trained a core leadership team.

Year 2: His business was running pretty effortlessly with his leaders executing the day-to-day operations.  He didn’t really know where he fit in his organization because the team no longer needed him.  He would show up about thirty hours a week, but with little purpose.

Year 3: He lost three of his five key leaders and found himself frantically trying to fill their spots.  Looking back he realized that in year two, he should have been working with his leaders to train the next generation.  Even in organizations with a high retention rate, life happens; a spouse gets a promotion and the family relocates, your stellar saleswoman has a baby and decides to stay home, or your picture perfect employee simply decides to do something new.

It happens every day.  People leave a job and move on to something else.  Those left behind will determine the strength of an organization.

Creating a culture of investing and training others to take your position is very powerful.  In most corporate settings, we have been trained not to let those under us get too close, or they will take our job.

Why not create an environment that rewards investing and growing others with the mentality- “work yourself out of a job and we will give you another one.”  This can be scary for many employees.  It is vitally important that the company creates trust in the process of training the next generation.  Reiterate that this behavior will be rewarded and will lead to advancement in the future.

I believe companies will thrive in an environment like this.  And when “year three” rolls around, they won’t be left scrambling.  It should almost be a seamless transition if done properly.

Challenge your teams to find and train their replacement, even if they don’t plan on leaving.  It’s always beneficial for more than one person to know how to do a particular job or task.

Don’t be a victim of “year three.”