hen a valued employee informs you of their decision to leave the organisation, a mixture of reactions and emotions can often emerge. For the immediate line manager, if the person is business-critical, their workload is particularly specialist or if people are already run off their feet, panic can often set in due to the unforeseen and pressing need to recruit for their replacement. Sometimes our emotions can also take over and instead of considering the situation rationally, we are overwhelmed by feelings of being let down. This is especially true in small organisations where someone ‘jumping ship’ can feel like a lack of loyalty, a display of ungratefulness and a slap in the face. However, it can also be true in larger high-profile companies especially if the manager has worked there for a long time. In this case, ‘institutionalised’ managers can often express confusion as to why anyone would choose to leave such a fantastic place and go as far as to suggest that the new role will not work out.
Difficult as it might be, sour grapes, inner panic and disappointment should be swept aside for the good of colleagues and the wider business. Would it not be more beneficial to try to find out why the employee is actually leaving? Is there anything you could and should have picked up on before it got to resignation stage? Could something still be done to stop the exit and if not, can the door be left ajar in case a return in the future, perhaps to a different role, could be considered? Exit interviews if conducted well and the information obtained used appropriately, can be worthwhile. Career management discussions at performance appraisal or salary review times can also provide some enlightening information and provide a real opportunity to understand the motivations of your employees.
Finally, consider the potential impact of the leaver on the wider business community. If you have truly valued their inputs and outputs over the years, do you really wish them to leave you in such a negative manner? After all, if their exit is handled well, they could be a powerful business advocate or high-value customer. Handled badly and it will only be negative comments which they will spread and lost business opportunities for you which will emerge. The business world is surprisingly small and you could also cross paths again especially if they are indeed a talented employee. In fact, they could end up as your future manager or CEO and it is then that you will wish you had managed their exit a little more carefully!