- Wise Words -
How to be graceful when “they” leave your team…
by fergus mellon
Dealing with the person who just said “I quit” can be really tough if you enjoyed working with them and feel let down by their leaving. That said, in the same way that there are best practices for leaving your job, so there are for dealing with the short timer or the “soon to be departed.”
Tips for managers in mourning
It can feel as if you are being deserted. It can also feel like a personal snub. But don’t take it personally. There are many, many reasons why people leave their roles.
Be positive. If they were good, let them know you will miss them and even that you would welcome them back in the future. In my first real job out of college my CEO said I could come back anytime, and he gave me a bonus to help pay for business school. I still remember this amazing gesture; if I ever have the chance to refer a client to his company I will.
Be realistic. If you make a counteroffer, know it is unlikely to be successful. Once an employee says they are leaving it is really difficult to change their mind. Do not feel rejected for a second time.
Ask for feedback. Take the opportunity to see what you can improve on. You will get a more candid version of the truth from the leaver. You may learn you need to tweak your communication style for Early Stage Professionals, for example, and this will help you become a better leader. And if you get the feedback directly it could take the sting out of any formal exit interview your company conducts.
Tips for co-workers left behind
Manage your relationships. There’s a good chance you’ll run into the leaver again. In addition, LinkedIn has made the professional world truly tiny. Also, one of those “bright young things” could end up being the founder of a multimillion-dollar start-up or, who knows, your manager at some point.
Let bygones be bygones. During your time together with the leaver, you may have had arguments or just disliked how they operated. When they quit it is too late to correct this. So be graceful. You gain nothing from settling old scores.
A shout out. If you enjoyed working with the leaver or they achieved a lot for your organization, acknowledge it and let them know they will be missed.
Keep the faith. A friend or manager who leaves your company may trigger the thought of “if they leave then I should, too.” Hold tight. People leave companies for all types of personal reasons. That doesn’t mean you should follow. No company is perfect. Stick where you are until you’re sure you need to try another option.
Goodbye drinks. Turn up to them! This is not just a chance to celebrate and respect the work that a co-worker did but is also a way to lift the whole of the team’s spirits.
How about a goodbye gift? It doesn’t need to be extravagant but a nice mug or, for extra credit, a goodbye video could be an amazing send-off. I recently left my company after a fantastic experience with an amazing group of people, and they made a wonderful goodbye video. It was humbling.
Don’t speak ill of the departed. Try your best not to blame the “absent friend” for any issues that come up later. It is not professional.
If you do all this, when it comes time for you to move on you might find your last weeks are ones to cherish as opposed to dread. You might be the “dearly departed”!
Related columns: "How to Resign" and "To Move Up, Move Out"