How Do You React When a Team Member Resigns? 2022-08-04T01:40:50-04:00

How Do You React When a Team Member Resigns?

This week I learned that a friend of mine has decided to accept a new job offer after working at the same company for many years

My friend was nervous about informing her boss, who had been very supportive during her tenure at the company. She was worried about her boss’s reaction and the impact her leaving may have on operations.

When my friend met with her boss and gave him the unexpected news, her boss’s first reaction was surprise and then – immediately – happiness for my friend.

When I heard this story, I thought back to the many times I had been on both sides of this equation. During my career I had resigned from jobs several times and had received different reactions from my managers. In some cases, the managers were gracious and grateful. In other cases, they were angry and upset.

I also thought back to the many times people had resigned from my own team at Georgetown University Law Center during my 32 years there. In instances when I was surprised, I did not always act as graciously as I would’ve liked. In other cases, when I had an inkling of what was coming, I was able to respond tactfully and supportively.

As leaders, we will inevitably be part of these kinds of conversations. We are role models for everyone with whom we work. How we respond in these conversations tells our teammates a lot about us as human beings and as managers.

When a team member tells you he or she has decided to leave, how have you responded? How can you respond effectively in the future?

Here are a few suggestions:

-Take the high road. No one wants to see your own personal aggravation come to the surface.

Be a role model for your entire team. Everyone will be watching to observe how you respond.

-Make time to reflect on what is happening without responding emotionally.

-Use the opportunity to gather information from the person who is leaving in order to improve his or her job description and your operations.

-Agree with the exiting employee on highest priorities between now and his or her final day on the job.

-Plan for how you will cover for this unexpected opening until you hire the person’s successor.

-Paint a positive picture for other team members who may worry that this person‘s absence will adversely affect the business.

-Celebrate this person‘s achievements with your company and thank him or her for key contributions

-Stay in touch with this person in the future. Just because you are no longer this person’s leader doesn’t mean you cannot still serve as a mentor.

-Do not burn any bridges. You never know when you and this former team member might help each other out as your careers continue.

How we respond when a team member unexpectedly leaves send a message to the team member and all her other teammates.

I hope when you find yourself in this situation, and you will, that you respond as professionally and graciously as my friend‘s boss did this past week.

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