• Stephen Rice

Everybody knows a Barbara!

A fictional name I have created - could be Barbara, Bob, Elizabeth or James. But everybody knows somebody in your company who is, without a doubt, your most valuable asset.

Whilst most companies recognize and appreciate what these employees do for them, they fail to fully understand the depth of Barbara's skills and the monumental impact on the company when she leaves. This makes Barbara irreplaceable, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.

To help you recognize your Barbara and tips as to how you keep her, here are her top 5 features:

Office Circa 1980's Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives

1. Barbara knows all of your customers by name - they know her.

Your customers look forward to calling you because they will get to catch up with Barbara. They know that they can trust her as she has helped them many times before. If they have a query, Barbara will get them an answer. No matter the challenge, she will say "leave it with me", and it gets sorted! You may not know this, but Barbara deals with large and small issues on a daily basis to save you the trouble.

2. Barbara has helped the company through tough times and has celebrated the good.

Always a phone call away, Barbara is on hand to deal with any crisis. Working through lunch and staying late to get things done, often organizing her leave around the companies busy period. When things are going well, she is there congratulating and celebrating with her team.

3. Barbara is a sounding board for your employees when they have challenges.

Not only is Barbara knowledgable about every aspect of the business, but she is also trusted by her colleagues. They come to her asking for advice, looking for answers to things they need immediately. They trust her opinion on things and most importantly, they have learned things from her about the company you can't get from textbooks.

4. When something goes wrong, Barbara fixes it before you know it's a problem.

Barbara sees things that nobody else does. What may be a massive issue for other people is controlled and dealt with immediately. You trust that if a matter is urgent and important she will raise it with you, otherwise, she will give you an update when it's done.

5. Barbara is generally not within a senior position in the company.

Barbara does all of these things, but more often than not, she isn't in a senior position. She generally goes above and beyond her pay grade because she has pride in her job and respects the company.

If you don't have a plan in place to protect your most valuable assets, now is the time to act!

Losing your key employee will not only be a huge loss to the company in terms of their personality but the loss has serious financial, continuity, productivity and morale issues. Here are the basic figures we know through research - loss of knowledge starts from $6,000, recruiting a new member of staff $7,000, their time to productivity costs $48,000 + 13-28 weeks getting to know the company culture and job.

Additional costs impossible to calculate include - Impact on morale; dip in productivity; time spent dealing with issues mostly resolved by your key employee; and customer confidence.

What can you do?

1. Let your key employee know they are appreciated

Take time to talk to your key employee and find out everything they do for you. Most important, don't forget to say thank you.

Recent studies show that employees are more likely to stay with their employer if they feel like their work is being recognized.

2. Do a skills audit

Take time to document everything your key employee does for you. DO NOT RELY ON THEIR JOB DESCRIPTION! This employee does things you don't even know about. It is important that you capture their skills and the skills of every other employee in one place.

3. Succession Plan

Nobody likes the idea of this person leaving, but you need to be prepared in the event they do. Do you have other people in the company who can take over responsibilities or be promoted? Do you know what skills you need to replace if you go out to hire? Do you know where to go, to get the right talent? Doing this will significantly reduce the impact on your business.

Find out how TalentSensus can help you do all of these things at the click of a button. With our Skills Auditing tool and Interactive Organization Chart, you can get a fully transparent view of the key workers in your company, support and recognize them through their career and get helpful advice on how to empower, keep and develop current and future Barbaras.

Visit www.talentsensus.com

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