How to Overcome Your Top Employee Resigning

May 24th, 2013

Even though you don’t like to think about it, the day will come when your superstar employee will leave your company, allegedly for greener pastures. It’s one of those tough realities in life – like death and taxes – that are inevitable and have to be properly managed.

Maybe your firm is currently in a slow growth period – losing customers, losing profit, or facing spending cutbacks. Even if the rumors are just that, it can be enough to incite people to make a move. And even in the case of the most highly qualified leader, personality conflicts may erupt, permanently damaging relationships with superiors.  Or, an associate’s life picture changes due to childbirth, elder care or the relocation of a spouse. Other factors include burnout, a need for more challenge and/or responsibility, or the simple fact that an employee no longer enjoys the job.

Whatever the reasons for a superstar’s departure, you need to “grieve and go on.”

Prepare for the Inevitable

The best way to ensure leadership continuity is to maintain a robust succession plan. By grooming the rising stars in your organization, you’ll be in a better position for them to step in and take over when a top employee resigns. As you devise this strategy, look at each position on your organizational chart:

  • In the event of a vacancy, will you fill the job internally or hire from outside?  Hiring from within is generally a good way to enhance morale and engagement, and of course, your current employees are familiar with the company and its culture.  However, investing in a new hire often pays for itself many times over in terms of new ideas, technology and professional contacts brought to the table.
  • Look at your current employees for qualities that earmark a leader: intelligence, creativity, drive, and a healthy sense of competitiveness and ownership.
  • Give your team members tools for development. Coach them, train them, and involve them in plans and decisions. This not only makes their jobs (and probably their lives) better, but it also makes them better ambassadors for the company.
  • Once you pinpoint a potential successor for a position, interview them to find out what their future plans are. You may picture a current Programmer Analyst as a future Data Architect but he or she may be contemplating moving into management.

Focus on the Future

If the ship has already sailed and your top talent is leaving, handle the transition graciously and professionally.

  • Get a formal resignation letter in writing, including a statement of final date of employment.
  • Notify other employees, starting with the person’s own department or team.
  • Hold an exit interview. The information gleaned will be valuable to your long-term hiring and management practices.
  • Take the high road and speak positively about the individual’s new opportunity.  “They’re lucky to have you. Of course, we want you to stay, but you have two good options, so you can’t go wrong.”
  • Keep in touch with your superstar after he or she leaves. This is advantageous not only in the event that they do decide to return someday, but also because they can act as your scout when you need to recruit for other positions.

Losing your stars is not easy. But as long as you’re ready to face this reality, the old adage about turning lemons into lemonade really can work. By placing your trust in a recruiter, you can ease the transition and avoid job stress of your own! Contact the expert staffing team at Select Group to start your search for your next top employee.

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