On Hiring and Losing an Irreplaceable Employee: Four Lessons Learned

3 min read

Three years ago, Well Done was a creative services shop trying to become an ad agency. We realized that to make that leap, we probably needed a great account service team.

Believe me, we resisted it. We thought we could run as a copy/contact agency—frankly, because that’s what I did in my decade-plus as a freelance copywriter. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that, even as a freelancer, I was really bad at account service. Lesson learned: Writers don’t make good AEs.

Fortunately, the best AE we knew was available. Beth Evans had been with Creative Alliance (now Scoppechio) in Louisville for a couple of years and was looking to move back to Indianapolis. We couldn’t believe our luck.

Really, we still can’t. Well Done has experienced double-digit growth in each of the past three years. Our account service staff–which once consisted of Beth–now numbers six. We have a nice roster of clients we love. Lesson learned: It pays to hire great people and let them do their jobs.

Dr. and Mrs. Jenkins.
Dr. and Mrs. Jenkins.

Beth met every challenge we threw at her with grace and aplomb. Somehow, she also managed to find time to meet the nicest, handsomest doctor in Indianapolis and become Beth Jenkins.

Now we come to the challenging part of our story. Because a couple of months ago, Beth told us she was leaving—that she was going to take a few years off and be a mom.

We were happy for her. It’s the right time. She’ll be a great mom.

But it’s no fun losing her.

Losing a staff member as valuable as Beth presents a challenge. She has meant so much to us, personally and professionally. We have leaned on her for wisdom and advice—no one more than I. She’s been gone a day, and we miss her already.

But every change is another opportunity to do great things. The amazing team that Beth put in place is already rising to the challenge of her absence. And we’ve talked with a number of superb candidates for Beth’s position who are ready to make their own mark on this organization. Lesson learned: No one is irreplaceable.

Sort of. Looking ahead, we know we’ll be great. But looking back, we know we would not be where we are today without the passion and the diligence and the guidance of Beth Jenkins. We’d be somewhere. But not here.

And so we thank her for that. And we wish her all good things now and for the future, knowing how challenging and rewarding and unforgettable those first years of parenthood will be.

And even though she’s not coming to the office every day, Beth’s still sort of stuck with us. She’s in our hearts, and her time at Well Done will have an impact on everything we do for years to come.

Plus, we know where she lives. Lesson learned: When you love someone, you should set them free, but you should also get a forwarding address.