Start getting the most from your workforce

Start getting the most from your workforce


You are trying to get the most out of every employee.   Some days are better than others.   You’d be happy if you could just clone your best, most reliable employee.

Your biggest fear

There’s a celebration in the office and everyone has come to share in the good cheer.   There’s friendly banter, and people are enjoying the laughs, stories, cake and punch.   So why are you so unhappy?  Because the one thing you’ve been trying to avoid is finally happening.

I’m talking about the sudden retirement of your most key employee.

You already know who I’m talking about.  No, I’m not talking about you.   I’m talking about the person who you are hoping comes back early from their vacation.   The person you always joke about cloning.  The person that everyone goes to (including you) when something needs to get done.

Get real

Time to face the facts:  your employees are trying to NOT work anymore.   What will you do when, not if, they are successful?  Will your business suffer?  What would you do if that person reaches their goal?   Early retirement.  Hitting the lottery.   Starting their own business.

You weren’t really serious about cloning employees, were you?

Don’t try to clone your best employees.   Clone how the job gets done.

Time for a reality check

Almost every business with an “invaluable” employee has major process weaknesses.   Unless your business is the National Football League, and we’re talking about your MVP quarterback, it’s highly likely that your employees have a skillset that is similar to other people in their field.   Sure, they might have more years of experience, or fit well in your culture, or might be your “go-getter”, but if you break down their job, it’s filled with tasks that anyone in their field should be able to complete at a high level.  So what is it that makes this person so valuable to your organization?

Anatomy of a high performer

Your invaluable “high performer” is the person that can best work around broken processes.  When things break down you rely on this person to hold things together.    They know your company well.  They are able to communicate on the fly.  They hold some respect from fellow workers.   In the end, they miraculously are able to get the job done with great effort.   You’d never be able to do so well without this person, right?

For the sake of your business, I hope not.   If you have a person like this (and most businesses do), you have process weaknesses.

Start here

Cloning your employee is easy if you are able to break down HOW they do their job.  I estimate that at least 90% of most jobs are standard process steps, which should be predictable and re-created.   Cloning the process can be as simple as writing down their steps.   Be specific and low level.   Include sources of “if/then” situations.    If you are finding that there are too many “if/then” variations, then it’s time to evaluate and change circumstances and process steps to ensure better predictability and reliability.  Remember that internal variation to a process is something to avoid at all costs.

Your employees are working hard to leave you.  Ensuring that your business doesn’t fall apart when your best employee takes the 3 months of vacation that they have been storing up isn’t highly technical DNA science.    It’s taking a hard look at your processes and ensuring that they are driven by your design, and not a single individual.   Strong companies know this and prepare.  Cloning is for the weak.

No offense to Molly the sheep.

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