The Real Cost of losing a Team Member

I’ve struggled with this topic for awhile – how to quantify when someone leaves your team or company – what is the impact to you, to start all over again, even with the best of best hires.


The biggest hurdle is always the investment through training, domain knowledge and overall cohesion with the team.  Measuring your external training investment is easy, but measuring internal training, knowledge transfer, etc over the course of their employment with you is very difficult.

Until now.

The variables

  • X is the amount that you invest in this resource from an external training perspective.
  • Y is the overall % growth of internal training an employee has received year over year.  This can be different for every organization and there could (and probably is) a very complex formula behind it – but selecting this variable is up to you.
  • Z is the number of years that they have been employed with the company.

The Equation

(X*Z) + ((Leaving Employee’s Salary * Y) * Z)

The Example

X = $ 2,500.00
Y = 9%
Z = 10
Old Employee’s salary = $50,000
New Employee’s salary = $60,000
 ($2,500.00 * 10) + (($50,000.00 *  .09) * 10) = $70,000.00
So what is $70,000?  Well, that is the cost of all the training that you invested in that employee before they left. Whereas you might think you are only spending an extra $10,000 in hiring costs, the hidden costs reveal that it’s more akin to $80,000 in additional costs to get that new employee up to the skill level of your previous employee.
It might not be 100% scientifically accurate, but it should make you think.

Career Lines vs Career Paths

A Career Line is a step-by-step instruction manual that will take you from A to B in the most efficient manner possible – don’t go to jail, don’t stop at GO and collect $200.
A Career Path is a trajectory that can lead you to many stops along the way, some good, some bad, some regret, some you wish you could visit again and again.  It doesn’t go straight, it’s not an arrow, it’s not the direct route to get you from A to B.
The Line is a highway that’ll get you there in a pre-known point of time, the path is the road less travelled, composed of many backroads, twists, and turns that’ll still get there.  We learn more about life, career, development, training, etc on the paths, they force us to try new things, sometimes to create our own path when the current path isn’t working, to reset and try again.
The line is perfectly good as well, it’s safe, straightforward, consistent, predictable – you can see the end and the end can see you.
Can I be on a path if I am in the same company, same job for many years?  For life?  Sure you can.  There is nothing saying a path has to take you to starting 5 companies, working for 10 and jumping from place to place.
It’s what you do on that path, in that organization, at that time, in that position that matters.
One is safe predictable and the other is a complete unknown – the question is which one do you want to guide your career.

What you need to be a Great Team Lead

Whether you are a developer becoming a Team Lead, an Architect becoming a Team Lead or you’ve been hired as a Team Lead, the skills you need are always the same.
  1. Learn the People – you might know everyone’s work, but you don’t know their style, take a moment, breathe it in and figure out a strategy for how you are going to work with everyone.
  2. Know the Technology – Team leads are generally closer to technology problems than their managers, often doing active coding while working with the team side-by-side.  Your learning doesn’t stop here, it’s just getting started, you need to stay on top of it.
  3. What’s Going on – there are other words to describe this, but I like this phrase.  Who is doing what, what are they on, when will they be finished, what are they slated for next?  Would you rather be coding and working with your team?  Figure out a way to get this information out to your manager with no needs for questions and you’ll be on the path to making that happen.
All 3 of those funnel into the biggie of being a Team Lead – Earn the Trust.  You’re not a Manager or Director or any other fancy title.  You might not even be on the organizational chart and not everyone will know what you do.  You have the dregs of the team pool being handed to you hoping you can make something happen.
And you will.
First and foremost, you must build trust – trust in who you are now coaching and mentoring, trust in that you are keeping abreast of what is happening the industry and trust in delivering code.  All three intertwine together and it’s your job to ensure that you are collecting raising that bar each and every day.  You will have setbacks and failures, but if you’re doing it right, those will only serve to strengthen your trust account, not diminish it.
So stop worrying about where you sit on the chart and complaining about how you didn’t get the A-Team and start working towards making them the AA-Team.

Project Support

Getting a project off the ground, especially when it is…
  • Something new
  • Personal
  • Represents a big change in direction
  • Goes against the status quo?
Is never easy.
We get down on ourselves, we feel like we aren’t making enough progress, it doesn’t work the first time, etc, etc.
That’s where Project Support comes in.
Project Support is someone (or ones) that are there to support you in making it happen.  Now don’t confuse Project Support with someone who is aligned with your vision and goals and votes with you at a meeting.
No Project Support is very different.
The Project Supporter is there to push you to keep going, makes sure you’re on the right path, asks you the hard questions as to whether you are getting done and maybe provides some feedback.  They aren’t there to do it or stand up at a meeting and pat you on the back, no no, they are there to make sure you get it done, in some shape or form.
In the office or out, we all need these people in our lives, you can’t always do it by yourself, don’t learn this too late.