What to do when an employee resigns
An employee's resignation is rarely a reason to celebrate. The shocking, angry, or surprising reactions when someone resigns is natural. The employee is a person you trust, whom you have invested in training and development, who brings value to the company—and they told you that they are moving on to other opportunities.
For managers, each employee is an important part of the team, and even if it is not a long-time employee or a senior worker leaving, you will feel the loss. When they go, their experience, skills, and general knowledge go with them as well. However, don’t take it personally.
People resign for a variety of reasons and, often, they are reasons not under our control. Your employee might have found a job that pays better, might have decided to change industries altogether, or maybe there is not enough room for them to grow in the business.
However, the show must go on. If your team has solid processes and open communication, as this article illustrates, then you, the manager, will have an easier time responding to and handling an employee’s departure.
It's natural for you to wonder if your employee is leaving because of you. Try to put all that aside. Don’t make it about you, and focus on what the real issue is.
People change jobs. They get better offers or the call to take on a life change is tempting. Try not to get defensive. Remember that whatever the reason may be, it is the best choice for them and they are doing what will make themselves happy in life and in their career. Keep calm, and have a positive conversation about their plans.
Ask and dig deeper
If you have an open and honest working relationship with your employee, then talk openly to the person and understand from their point of view why they are leaving. It may be hard not to feel hurt, but it is best to look at this as a 'pure business' decision.
Find out why they're moving on to greener pastures. Are there any lessons to learn? Maybe there are deep-rooted problems that you need to address immediately. If your leadership or management style is the issue, look at this as a moment that will lead you to become a manager who is now aware of their own weaknesses.
Fill in the productivity gap
When discussing how and when to communicate the resignation with the rest of the team and other key stakeholders, the transition plan for their daily responsibilities also needs to be discussed. Ask the employee to provide turnover documents detailing current projects and impending deadlines. Get information about and guidance on who in the team is best suited to pick up pending tasks. Furthermore, create development plans and a succession plan so that the team avoids the same problem.
Bid the resigning employee farewell
Everyone wants to feel recognized and appreciated, especially in the workplace. As a manager, it is important that we say three magic words to the outgoing employee: congratulations, goodbye, and thanks. Keep in mind that other colleagues will observe how you handle this resignation.
Make it a point to thank them in front of their coworkers and explain why they were so good at their role. Express to the employee how grateful you are to have met and worked with them. Thank the person for their service to the company, and tell them that you wish them well in their future endeavors.
Approach things a bit differently
Ask yourself if there are things you would do differently next time. Think and take a step back on how to make your workplace great. Grow and learn through introspection, and always be prepared for any kind of resignation.
Improve conversations with your employees on career opportunities. By having honest one-on-one time with your employees about their ambitions, you'll be able to get a better understanding of where they want to go. This, in turn, will help you plan for your team and talent for the future.
When one door closes, another opens. See resignations as a new beginning, as an opportunity to think about redefining the job description of the role they are leaving behind. This could also be a good time to give a well-deserved promotion to a remaining member of the team. Stay optimistic and remind your team that everyone is valued. Reaffirm the importance of their roles and the compelling reasons they are there.
It is difficult to manage resignations, especially when talking about a valuable employee. However, it is not necessary to make the situation worse. Remember, there is no one who cannot be replaced. Also, the manager sets the tone for what happens after the resignation. This tone has a ripple effect both on the immediate and long-term future of employees throughout the company.
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