It is late Friday afternoon when your employee asks to meet with you privately and delivers the bad news that they are leaving the company. Like a deer in the headlights, you are stunned to receive this resignation. Once you get over the shock, what do you do? More importantly, how do you prevent others from leaving? Here are some managerial best practices on what to do when an employee quits, as well as on how to manage unexpected turnover:
Know your HR policies
As a manager, it is important to be familiar with your company’s policies regarding employee departures. Who do you inform first? Do we allow the person to work their notice period, or ask them to leave right away? Can you or should you counter-offer? How soon do you announce the news to the team? Ideally, you want to announce this right away to avoid “gossip” or having your team find out through the grapevine. It is best to seek advice from your HR representative on how to best manage the departure details.
Understand the “why”
Once you get over the influx of emotions such as anger, denial, and frustration, take time to reflect on the reason the employee is leaving. Perhaps it is for personal reasons, ex: spouse is being transferred to another city, or to explore a different career choice. Most importantly, you want to discover if it is something you, as a manager, were able to prevent. Was the person unhappy but you never realized it? By discovering the “why”, you can be more attune to similar signs and patterns displayed in other employee’s behaviours to prevent further departures.
Transferring the resigned employee’s years of knowledge will probably be the biggest challenge in managing the departure. Ensure that before they leave all important knowledge related to client information, internal processes or project status is documented or transferred to someone else. Realistically, it will be impossible to track and document everything. Keep the lines of communication open with the person leaving and ask them if it is okay to contact them either via email or phone if a problem arises. Leaving off on good terms will be especially important.
Wish them well
If the employee has stayed on to complete their working notice, organize a get-together where their colleagues can wish them well before they leave. It does not have to be big; it can be coffee and cake in the boardroom or a team lunch. By doing so, you will demonstrate to your team that you appreciated this employee’s contribution, you add closure to the person’s departure and you harmonize the work relationship with those who are staying behind.
Keep the lines of communication open
As a people manager, it is important to frequently communicate with your employee on both a formal and informal basis to talk about the future. Often times, employees will be more at ease to talk openly and honestly in a more casual setting. Take them out to lunch or coffee and talk to them candidly about where they see themselves in the future of the company or better yet, in their personal lives. Do they plan on moving to another city? Or, are they eagerly waiting for that next promotion but are frustrated that they are not getting it? By keeping the lines of communication open, the resignation should not come to a surprise.