What to Do When Your Best Employee Leaves


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Monday, April 2, 2018

It can be devastating when your most valuable employee leaves but it's not the end of the world. Here's how to deal with the change.

Article 3 Minutes
What to Do When Your Best Employee Leaves

Employees are the heart of any business. Whether you're a large multi-national or a small enterprise, the people you have on your team have a considerable impact on your success (or failure).

However, when you have a much more compact workforce, your most talented professionals can often feel like a foundation of your business model and losing one can be devastating.

But it's not the end of the world. Having your best employee leave can actually be a fantastic opportunity to look at your business and make changes for the future.

Schedule that exit interview

If you're a small team, it may feel uncomfortable to hold an exit interview but they can be extremely valuable. The interview doesn't have to be super formal but it can be an opportunity to thank the employee for the contribution they've made to your company and have them communicate any issues they've had during their time with you. This not only allows you to identify any problem areas there may be in the company but also means you leave on good terms so they'll be happy to come back if their new place doesn't work out.

Tell the team

There's nothing worse than feeding the rumor mill and having someone leave is often a trigger for gossip. Why are they leaving? Where are they going? What is the company going to do? To get ahead of the rumors, make sure you tell the whole team at the same time what's happening and what the plan will be for their departure. This ensures that everyone feels they are in the loop and removes the risk of chaos ensuing.

Fill the skills gap

When a gem leaves your workforce, it provides the opportunity for others to fill their shoes. Other employees may have felt constantly in their shadow or have been quite happy to learn from their experience, but now they're gone it could be someone else’s time to shine. For a small business, promoting and upskilling employees is a big consideration but it could be worth it, allowing you to create a professional who is trained exactly the right way for your company.

Identify your resources

A habit many small companies fall into when a valuable employee leaves is trying to push their responsibilities onto others or even pause them for the time being. Although there isn't anything essentially wrong with either of these, it's not a long-term solution for success and it can lead to a considerable drop in employee morale. No one likes being forced to do more than their job demands, especially if they're not being rewarded for it.

Instead look at the resources you still have available and whether you want to promote internally to fill the position by upskilling, hiring externally, or finding another solution. The most important step in this is to make sure you are communicating this clearly to your team. Even if you find your plans are changing, make sure you are as transparent as possible.

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