Manage Team Morale When a Well-Liked Employee Resigns

By Harvard Business Review
December 4, 2018

Once you’ve reflected on your own reaction, you can work through a process that will minimize the damage on the staff.

It’s difficult when a well-liked member of your team tenders his or her resignation. How you handle it will affect more than just you alone. But losing one team member might be a low price to pay if it leads to better morale all around. Here are a few ways to deal with someone's resignation:

Before sharing the news, consider your response. Grapple with your own reactions before you’re forced to manage those of your team members.

Host a party. Losing a well-liked colleague will create concern and even grief for your team. Letting the person slip out the door unheralded will suggest that you don’t care.

Remain calm. Your team will be looking to you for reassurance. Your words and body language should convey that it’s normal for people to move on.

RELATED: Key Tactics to Build Stronger Teamwork

Request an interview. Ask the person leaving for their candor. Even if your organization has a formal third-party exit interview process, conduct your own.

Get past predictable, pat answers. Try questions like, “What advice would you give me to prevent another great person like you from leaving?” “What do I need to know that people aren’t telling me?” “How could I improve the experience of working here?”

RELATED: Nine Paths for Improving Teamwork in a Hospital Setting

Put your insights into action. Whether one-on-one or in team meetings, dig into any themes that have merit. Share your hypotheses and ask people to clarify, refine, validate or challenge how you’re thinking.

Have frank conversations. Pay more attention to the kinds of feedback, coaching and celebrations that will motivate your team and keep them engaged.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Leadership

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