People will leave your organization. It is normal and natural. In fact, there should be an expectation that people will leave but often leaders react in surprise and hurt.It's normal for someone to leave your organization, but leaders often react in surprise and hurt. Click To Tweet
Here are a few of the reasons people will leave:
- Their spouse gets a new job.
- They have a new opportunity or promotion.
- They get a job that pays more.
- They relocate to be near extended family.
- They feel God has called them to a new work.
- Their position is no longer needed.
- They haven’t been able to succeed in their work.
- They get tired or burned out in their work and need a change.
. . . and many more reasons.
Here are 5 critical mistakes leaders make when someone leaves:
- React emotionally.
Leaders take it personally when someone leaves. They see the departure as a lack of loyalty to them and to their organization. This reaction can show up as anger, bitterness, apathy, or resentment. All of these are dangerous for the team.
Resolution: Your team needs a settled and confident leader when someone on the team leaves. Whatever emotion you may be feeling, be cautious to not let the emotion drive your reaction.
- No closure.
When there isn’t healthy closure when someone leaves, there will be a setback of trust, momentum, and productivity. Organizational energy will be given to trying to figure out the why, what, and how of the exit. Assumptions will be made and office gossip will be rampant.
Resolution: Allow your team to interact with the person leaving, to feel whatever they feel about the departure (grief, sadness, or anger), and to have a time to say good-bye. If possible, it is good to have a break or special lunch for the individual leaving. It can be a small group of people or an entire team. Having good closure allows people to move forward in a healthy way.
- No communication.
Silence is deadly. A void in communication will cause people to make up their own story with some elements of truth but also elements of untruth. It can cause unsettledness and fear to ripple through your team. To say nothing about someone departing is like having a family member die, their body removed, and no one says a word about them being gone. Unimaginable! But organizations do this all the time.
Resolution: Communicate first, communicate directly, and include the person leaving as part of the communication plan. Own the story and don’t let others make up the story.
- No exit interview.
None of us like hard conversations and sometimes an exit interview is hard. So we avoid the employee leaving and convince ourselves it is better that they are going. The silent exit with no honest and open conversation leaves unfinished personal and organizational business that can do damage for years.
Resolution: When someone leaves, you need to walk toward them not away from them. Try your best to have healthy closure if at all possible. It is an opportunity for you to say “thank you, I regret things didn’t work out, I am sorry we weren’t able to meet your expectations, I wish you the best in your new role” or whatever needs to be said. It is a great time for you to ask questions, listen, and learn.
- No thank you.
Unless there is a moral or ethical reason someone is let go, every employee who has worked on your team deserves a thank you for their contribution. When a team doesn’t have this opportunity to say thank you and to bless the person’s departure, it can cause others on the team to feel unsettled. A time of closure, of recognition, and a time of blessing in departure will help your team move on more quickly and focus more readily on the future.
Resolution: In all communication about an employee’s departure, recognize the person’s contribution to the team and thank them for that contribution.
These mistakes can be deadly to your team and to your culture. A leader can be so focused on the individual leaving, they forget that their entire team is impacted by the departure of a team member. The cultural impact and organizational under currents of someone leaving in an unhealthy way is major.Leaders can be so focused on the individual leaving, they forget that the team is impacted by their departure. Click To Tweet
Affirm your team when someone leaves. You don’t want other team members thinking “I need to look for another job and a better opportunity.” Or if you had to let someone go, you don’t want other team members thinking, “I may be next so I had better start looking for something else.”
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can ignore someone leaving and it will be okay. It matters more than you think.
“Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” Romans 12:10-12
What mistakes have you seen or experienced when someone left a team?