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What to do when someone quits on you

Workboots

This past two years many mining businesses and site departments have 'trimmed the fat', 'right sized' and basically lost every person that wasn't deemed absolutely essential to daily operations.

This certainly cuts costs and sometimes gives an operation the best chance of survival, as well as survival for all the staff who DO remain on board.

What it also does though is increase the relative importance of the people who are left, making them more critical cogs in the wheel. In an environment of more concentrated human resources, when one of those key cogs walks in and quits, perhaps after you backed them ahead of someone else during the redundancy phase, it can hurt – not just your department, but it can hurt you emotionally, too.

It is true that the way an employee resigns often defines them and rarely does much to assist their future, but can easily do a lot to damage it. Similarly, the way you as the employer handles the bad news can define you.

This article was based on one first spotted in August 2014, on a blog post by recruitment industry trainer and speaker Greg Savage.

The full article can be found on Greg’s site www.gregsavage.com.au and was entitled:

Someone resigned?
          Don’t be a fool.
                         Stay cool.

The emotions that follow an unexpected resignation can cloud your judgment. Here’s what Greg recommends:

Keep calm

If you don’t think you can be balanced, it may be best to say very little. Perhaps just “well clearly I am disappointed, and you would know I would feel that way, but I wish you all the best.”

Understand the reasons

You need to dig and explore, calmly and rationally, why this person wants to leave.Maybe the situation can be saved, if that is what you want. Maybe you can learn something about your own business that could save future resignations.

Avoid impulsive counter-offers

You face losing a key person so you throw more money at them on the spot. This is rarely the right move and often regretted. First explore the reasons. Dig and discuss. A restructured package or evolved role may be an answer. But that comes later, in another discussion, if at all.

Don’t boot them out

This happens often and makes no sense. If the person is going to take data or secure relationships for their future job,
trust me, they have done that already! The damage is done. So, you now need to act in your own best interests, which may well be to keep them right where they are, while you put a few things in place to mitigate the damage.

Don’t be petty

“Well, stop using the company car park from today then!” Be bigger than that. If they are still there, we presume you valued their input. So thank them.

Pay them what they are owed

Shortchanging someone at this point inevitably leads to bitterness and often costly repercussions, and your remaining staff will hear of it and your reputation will be damaged.

One door closes, another opens

From personal experience, I have felt, and others have told me “We were devastated when he/she resigned, but in fact, it’s been for the best. We never realised how destructive the person was in the team, and things are much better now and other people have stepped up …” A resignation may be a negative, but it’s also an opportunity. Look for that opportunity. Who can you promote? What team structure can you now change for the better?

Keep the door open

If the person leaves on a sour note, tells lies, is destructive, does not stick to their notice obligations, or slacks off through that period, they are history to me as far as future employment goes. If, on the other hand they resign for sound reasons of their own, give appropriate notice, help
with handover, maintain the right attitude, the last thing I say to them is this;

“I wish you well, and if the circumstances are right for both of us, the door may well be open here in the future”.

I know it’s easy for me to give this advice, and in truth there are many times I have not behaved like this myself. But I learned. I got better. I handled things differently over time. And I was a much happier and more effective as a leader as a result.