Losing a Great Employee? Follow These 5 Steps:

A great employee just resigned.

Now what?

As an employer and/or hiring manager, you invest a lot of time and energy into building and developing a strong team. Naturally, losing a key employee is difficult. It can be frustrating. You might even take it personal.

If you think about it, when an employee resigns, the immediate concerns and fears are often about how the resignation impacts you. Who’s going to do this work? Who’s going to finish this project?

Take a deep breath. Remember, they have a career. Maybe even a family. You’ve likely changed jobs in your career. You do what you think’s best for your family, right?

Follow these 5 steps next time an employee resigns.

  1. Stay Calm & Ask Good Questions.

    • Have a productive and professional conversation with your employee when they resign. Are they just leaving for a better opportunity? If so, be supportive and happy for them.
    • If they are leaving for other reasons, what are they? Don’t be defensive. Be curious.
    • Learn from them. What did they enjoy about working on your team? What would they improve?
  2. Communicate.

    • Quickly decide who needs to know and when. It’s going to get out. People are going to find out.
    • Immediately following the resignation, you have the opportunity to control the message and process moving forward.
    • If people start finding out from the person resigning or via rumors, you risk creating a more volatile or frustrating situation.
  3. Assess: Evaluate Your Vacancy and Team.

    • Most initial reactions are to immediately hire someone to backfill the person leaving. Maybe that’s the right decision. Maybe not.
    • Do you need someone at the same experience level and pay? Is someone else on your team ready and interested in that role?
    • If you do hire externally, be sure to check out our 10 Tips for Creating a Better Interview Experience.
  4. Have a Knowledge Transfer Plan.

    • If they haven’t already, every person on your team should document what they do.
    • A binder with step-by-step instructions, lists of deadlines, helpful screen shots, etc.
    • You can’t capture everything the person leaving did for your team. But you can be sure that the tactical and day-to-day tasks are documented. This will allow work to get done while you figure out the best long-term solution for the role.
  5. Focus on the Positives.

    • As a leader, you likely take pride in developing the people on your team, right? A good employee leaving can be confirmation that you’re doing a good job! Of course, you don’t have to be happy they’re leaving. But, if you’re doing a good job leading and developing employees, it’s going to happen.
    • Change can be good. Although you lost a great employee, hiring a new person will bring new ideas, fresh perspective and different experiences to the team. Or, perhaps someone on your team is ready to step up and take on the open position.
    • In an ideal world, your organization would have enough advancement opportunities for every employee that’s ready. But, that’s not realistic. It’s important to think about succession planning and career growth for your employees. Just know that the result of being a good leader/manager is that good employees will sometimes need to move on.

These 5 Steps will help help when the next person resigns from your team. But, don’t wait around for it.

Consider these statistics:

  • 75% of the causes of employee turnover are preventable (HR Dive)
  • 34% of employees say they plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months (Mercer)
  • 81% of employees would consider leaving their current role for the right offer (Hays)

As a leader…

  • What can you do to prevent or limit the avoidable turnover?
  • What can you do to be better prepared the next time someone resigns?

We hope you find this helpful! What would you add? We would love your feedback and input.