The last post focused on how an employee should exit a job.  This one is for the employer/supervisor’s point of view…

It has happened.  Your team member has turned in their letter of resignation.  Change is imminent.  Now it is time to face your own emotions.  Yes, emotions.  Do you feel betrayed?  Angry?  Or, maybe you are relieved.  You could even be happy.  Regardless, there are real emotions that must be acknowledged and addressed.  

Why?  What difference does it make?  

The manner in which you handle an employee’s departure can make a huge impact with the remaining team members.  They will be watching and, even more important for you to realize – talking.  Talking to each other, to their family members, to their outside contacts and yes, especially to the team member who is leaving.  While you cannot control what people say, you can help to change the tone.  There is a need to understand that the core substance of many of these conversations will be their concerns.  They are losing a teammate.  Whether they like the person or not, the departure will raise questions.  Most times, it comes back to the simple who, what, where, why and how.

Who will do the work?  What will be done to replace them?  Where does this leave me?  Why are they leaving? How will we manage?

To help alleviate concerns, it is incumbent on you, the employer/supervisor, to set the internal tone for the departure.  Doing so will mean you have to put your personal feelings aside.  Of course, sometimes that is easier said than done.  First, meet with the team member.  Try to understand why they are leaving.  It may be as simple as the need to move out of the area or it may be a more complex reflection of the internal culture.  Understand it.  Own it.  Which leads to the next step.  Accountability.  Your actions or lack thereof might have played a role in their decision to leave.  Spend time with your own thoughts on the subject, reach out to your mentors for advice and if you need to, make changes.  Next, keep your remaining team members engaged.  Answer their questions and work with them for a positive process of change.

Finally, no matter how well or poorly the departing team member acts, you must rise above.  Doing so will maintain and grow trust with your remaining team.  To help, here are some tips for you to remember:

  1. Do not speak negatively about the team member and their departure.  If anyone asks, you are hope they find much success in the future.
  2. Do not treat them harshly or in any way that is out of the norm.  It should be business as usual.
  3. Do not fill your team with any fears that they will have more work to do or that the person is irreplaceable.  Assure them that you will work with them to make sure the important tasks are covered and their efforts will be optimized.
  4. Do keep your team informed on the replacement process and its progress. 
  5. Do take time to individually meet with your team.  Listen and as much as possible, address their concerns.  Ask them for input on the personality and skills that would be a good fit for the role. 
  6. Absolutely do take this as an opportunity to review job functions and make improvements for the future of the department.

It is important to always keep in mind that a positive relationship must be maintained with the person who is departing.  The connection will always be there.  Whether they move to a competitor, vendor or your own client’s business, they will always have worked for you.  Make their last work experiences with you be positive ones. 

There is a benefit to all of this we have not discussed yet.  In keeping the departure experience positive, you might actually avoid adding to the undercurrent of past employees – you know – those people who were never “friends” while they worked together but have now united to try to undercut your efforts.  There is nothing you can do to stop them, but you can avoid giving them fuel for their conversations.  After all, if you treat someone well as they depart it gives them one less item to complain about and the experience becomes one of their lasting memories.

As was noted in the last blog post:  Why should you care?  

You spend your energy building a great team, don’t let one departure destroy the trust you have built.  Focus on the positivity of your team’s future rather than the negativity of the past.  It isn’t easy but it is the right thing to do and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance.  RD Advisory Group is here to help.  There are always multiple views to the same situation and we can work with you to achieve the best outcome for your team’s future and ultimately your combined success.

This is a complex topic and there is at least one more view point.  The final installment in this series will be from the view point of the teammates who are left behind.   Stay tuned and as always, stay positive!

Thank you for joining me on this journey.   Comments and questions are welcome.  For more information on an assessment of your current business functions visit our Services page.

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