Everyone is replaceable.

Sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t it? Especially since most of my writing and speaking center around how we take care of employees at Lemonly, how important it is to build work culture, how other employers should also adopt a “people first” mentality, etc.

It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. Everyone is replaceable.

A few years ago, early in Lemonly’s existence, I was bummed about one of our designers leaving the company for an exciting opportunity in Texas. I really took it hard and thought to myself, “What did we do wrong? Do they not like Lemonly?”

I was venting to my wife (who used to cover the Green Bay Packers as a sports journalist) about this news, and she broke into story about the day Brett Favre retired — for the second time. She explained how the fans in Wisconsin lost their minds. “Woe is us! The sky is falling! The Packers are doomed!” Favre was their hero, their star quarterback, and all of a sudden he was replaced by some unknown kid named Aaron Rodgers.

For those of you who don’t follow football, Rodgers wasn’t unknown for long, as he went on to become arguably the best QB in the National Football League today — even Favre has great things to say about him. The Green Bay Packers fans turned out just fine, enjoying a 25-year run of Hall of Fame quarterbacks from Favre to Rodgers.

Replacing talent worked out fine for the Packers, and it’ll work out fine for your business.

No Matter How Good Your Company Is, Employees Will Always Leave

First off, if you’re truly invested in your company, you’re invested in your employees. You create a culture they’re excited about, take care of them when it matters most, like when they become parents, and give them the the tools and flexibility they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Even if you’re doing a great job with all that, employees are going to leave sometimes. It’s just the facts. And it sucks.

It sucks because you care about your employees, you’ve invested in them, and you want your company to fulfill their wants and needs––but everyone is replaceable.

You should miss your employee and wish him/her all the best in the next phase of life, but you should be excited at the opportunity this creates. You can assess your team, evaluate your needs, reorder your strategy –– options abound.

New Employee = New Opportunity

If you’ve done the work to build a positive company culture:

  1. You’ll attract the kind of applicants who want to contribute to your company, your strategy, and your goals.
  2. Your current employees will feel empowered to use this as a growth opportunity, to step up and take on the responsibilities of someone who left the company.
  3. You’ll have the opportunity to adjust your strategy and bring in new blood, which can be inspiring to any team.

 

I’m not saying everyone is interchangeable. When an employee leaves, you might be tempted to fill the position with the closest replica you can find: similar temperament, goals, experience.

Be careful. Be selective. Use this opportunity to revisit your options and direct your trajectory.

Find Your Aaron Rodgers

You can’t find another Brett Favre, there is only one, but you can find your Aaron Rodgers. When you do find that next star QB, you’ll onboard them, integrate them into your company culture, and — when your company is running as smooth as ever — you’ll look back and know that everything is just fine. You’ll believe that everyone is replaceable.

As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I’m not ready to say that Sam Bradford will replace the injured Teddy Bridgewater and the team won’t skip a beat, but I have to believe the team can move on. That’s the mindset you need as a business owner. The business is bigger than any one person. Employees will leave no matter how good things are, and both you and the business will be just fine. Just ask a Packers fan.

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