Covid, Brexit, technology advances have led to skill shortages in Canada, the UK etc. and challenges in the local environment have also led people to seriously consider relocating (“Japa”) permanently. So we are almost guaranteed to have a continuous skill outflow for the foreseeable future.
Nowadays when you get a phone call or text message from a team member to find out when would be a good time to see you, it’s almost guaranteed that the person calling wants to let you know that he/she is leaving the organization. Over the last 18 or so months, these phone calls/messages have become more and more frequent across multiple businesses of all sizes and sectors because of the Japa phenomenon. To top it off, there’s a double whammy impact of the “Japararian’s” exit. First is the direct impact of the people who leave the shores of Nigeria for “the abroad” and second is the domino effect of people resigning to fill the roles the Japararians left vacant.
Both types of exits can be destabilizing to any team/organization especially as the notice period is often
fairly short. You can’t stop people from leaving (maybe you’re even formulating your own japa strategy?) so as a leader what can you do to minimize the negative impact? I won’t claim to have all the answers, but here are some things that have helped:
Connection is key
Targets matter and performance is important, but people need to feel they are part of something. Especially in these days of remote working where it’s very easy for both existing and new team members to feel disconnected if there isn’t an intentional attempt to create a sense of connection. The connection doesn’t mean just coming to the office physically but sharing a bigger picture of what the team/business is trying to achieve and knowing that they’re part of a team making it happen. Sharing can be remote/hybrid depending on what works best for the team, but it must be intentional and consistent.
Up the Empathy Game
Imagine being in a team where many team members have left so there’s a greater burden on those doing the work, on top of whatever else may be going on based on the economy, personally, etc. I’m not suggesting becoming an agony aunt/uncle and blurring lines, but as leaders, we must recognize people are going through a lot in different ways and not everyone necessarily openly articulates what they’re facing. The onus is on us to create an open and respectful environment in our teams where people feel they matter and that their efforts are recognized and appreciated.
Make the cloud your friend
When people leave an organization, they take institutional knowledge with them, and you may find that you’re having to try and reach people who have left because colleagues or new recruits don’t know what to do. As much as possible document processes, procedures, templates, key contacts etc. in a central cloud-based location (Dropbox, Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive, etc. or whatever proprietary platform your business uses) that you as the leader have access to. The last thing you want is to lose critical information because it’s on someone’s laptop and the person is no longer reachable.
Create a pool of knowledge
Someone I spoke to shared how he’d lost his best hands and did not think it was worth going through the hassle of training another person who’s likely going to leave anyway. While I understand where he’s coming from, I believe that perspective is a little myopic. What if the person doesn’t leave and you have someone functioning at less-than-ideal standards? I suggest training people to train others so the person who was trained directly gets to impart knowledge and others get to participate in the learning. You never know who the next bright star may be. This takes me to the next point.
Don’t focus on superstars
Excellent when you have them, but what if the star japas or leaves for other reasons? If colleagues feel the team is built around one person they will [un]consciously take a back seat and may not pull their full weight. Strengths vary for sure, but everyone must have something they’re personally responsible for driving as part of the overall goal.
Does the role really need to be filled by a full-time person? What about outsourcing or creating internships for less demanding roles? How flexible can you be? We need to think creatively about how to access and retain talent.
The only thing constant is change and as leaders, we must recognize that the world of work has changed. Japa and its impact are real, but we still need to deliver value as best we can so our methods must also evolve. What are your Japa-impact strategies? Send me a message I’d like to hear from you.