Q: A key employee recently quit, and I was caught off guard. What can I do to avoid this happening again?

A: Be in tune with your team. Any differences in work quality, commitment, and demeanor are signs that something has changed. In order to recognize these changes and effectively address them, you should do the following.

  • Know your people and how they typically interact so you recognize changes when they begin to happen.
  • Communicate fully and completely. Don't allow yourself or your team members to operate as an island. Create an environment where it is comfortable for your team members to discuss their concerns.
  • Be the question, not the answer. Allow individuals on the team to think on their own and ask them to express what they think. This alone will provide you with valuable insight into what they are thinking and any changes they are going through.You are dealing with human beings who aren't necessarily used to speaking what's on their minds; therefore, it's up to you to create an environment that encourages full and complete communication. With this framework of communication built on honesty and respect, you are much less likely to be “caught off guard” in the future. —Clay Nelson is a business coach to contractors nationwide, www.cjenterprises.com.