8 Ways to Handle Employee Resignations
Many employers have been there. Everything at the office is going great and everyone seems to be happy. Your team is performing superbly and the latest project is nothing but a piece of cake for them. They communicate, delegate, collaborate, and do everything the company needs.
And then, all of a sudden one of your high-performing employees asks to have a conversation in your office. Given that everything is going smoothly, you don’t suspect anything. However, as the employee comes to your office, they close the door and tell you that they want to leave the company.
This is a scenario that many managers and team leaders dread because it can disrupt progress in many ways. For example, if a valuable employee leaves the team, team morale as well as team performance can suffer.
Do you want some ideas on how to handle employee resignations in your team in a way that mitigates many of the problems and keeps morale high?
Here are eight tips on how to deal with employee resignations. Even though many employee resignations are typically unpredictable, there are a number of strategies you should keep in mind to prevent the negative implications of the loss.
1. Be a good listener
You may be tempted to say many things when an employee announces this news. However, you should try your best to listen and understand why he or she is leaving. You may discover some perceived disadvantages of working for your company.
For example, if an employee says that an uncompetitive compensation package is the main reason for leaving, review and analyze whether the company provides a reasonable salary. Next, if the reason is a lack of professional growth opportunities, you may ask yourself whether your company does, in fact, provide enough of them. As a result, you may start noticing the signs of unhappy employees.
2. Control your reaction
The way you react to their decision to leave could well define how your employee will decide to spend their last days working in your company. For example, if your reaction is negative, the employee may choose to respond with a similar attitude. As a result, he or she may spend their final days not doing much.
To avoid that, you can replace anger with empathy. Just imagine how difficult it is for the employee to share this news with you. Be an empathetic leader and help make it easier for them by showing understanding and a positive attitude.
3. Minimize disruption to the team
The departure of any team member can seriously disrupt business operations. The effect can be even more profound if the leader does not handle it properly. Here’s what you can do to minimize the disruption:
- Sit down in your office and determine how you will share the news with other members of the team, customers, partners, or top management, if applicable.
- Ask the employee for help potentially identifying a replacement.
- Let the rest of the team know about the departure before the employee announces it (and definitely before they leave!). If you announce it after their departure, chances are you’ll create a strong feeling of uncertainty.
- Talk with other members of the team. The news about someone leaving could potentially start many rumours. So, calm them down and reassure them to view this event just as a small bump in the road.
4. Make sure your message to the team is consistent
Whenever possible the team should learn about the departure of a colleague in person.
“If someone is absent or there are other persons you need to communicate the news to, ensure that your message is consistent,” says Iman Williamson. “A different message can easily trigger more rumours about reasons for quitting and even more. As a result, the team morale as well as your reputation coulx suffer.”
5. Praise the former employee
After you share the news with the rest of team and you’ve also communicated the news to customers, you should take some time to appreciate the work of the departing employee. Of course, it depends on how long they worked in the company. For example, if the employee had long tenure, many of their colleagues will most likely want an opportunity to say goodbye.
You may want to organize a small farewell party in the office. Nothing big and fancy, just a gathering of people where everyone can wish all the best to the former colleague. They will certainly appreciate it.
6. Stay in touch
After the employee has left your team, you should try to stay in touch with them. It makes strong business sense because this employee could potentially become a future business partner. Moreover, their perception of you as a good leader will only strengthen.
7. Attempt to negotiate (if necessary)
What if an employee resigns at a critical point in a project?
Unexpected employee resignations can provide a negative impact on a team but when it happens a week out from delivering an important project, things could get ugly.
As the project leader, you know if a key member quits, there’s simply no time to replace them and deliver the project as planned. Moreover, the cost of replacing that employee is very high.
If the project is at a critical point and the stakes are high, it is reasonable negotiate. For example, you could ask them to stay at least one more week or until the end of the project.
- You could try to explain that resigning at such a critical stage could seriously damage their reputation. If a future employer were to learn that they have a history of leaving at critical moments, they may not consider them as a suitable candidate for a position in their company.
- Let that person know that it’s impossible to find another qualified person quickly and deliver the project in time. If they have already found a new position, ask them to stay for one more week.
8. Reevaluate your risk management plan
Every manager should have a plan that outlines the actions in case an unexpected event like a resignation occurs. If you are facing the same issue and have limited options, it is a good idea to establish such protocol. For example, you can change your recruitment process to ensure that there is always someone else on the team that can perform the duties of a leaving member.
Managing employee resignations can be daunting, so your task is to make it as painless as possible. Remember to stay positive and always have a back-up plan because otherwise even one resignation could be destructive for your team.