Joe Fuld is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in the Washington, D.C. area. He is the president of The Campaign Workshop, a political and advocacy advertising agency that provides strategy, digital advertising, content and direct-mail services to non-profit and political clients.
As a business owner, when someone leaves the company there is an instinct to feel rejected and think, "I must have done something to make them leave." I know that when people leave my business, I have these thoughts. Having someone leave your company is never easy, but I've learned that opportunities will come knocking if you have good employees. With that said, here are a few tips I have used over the years when an employee is about to depart:
1. Do whatever you can to get them to stay.
If you like the employee, make them a counter offer. Include money, time off, training, theme park tickets, or any of your resources to make the offer as appealing as possible. Keep in mind that it may not work. For example, the last time someone left my company, the employee said they wanted to try a new opportunity and knew I would try to keep them. That employee left on very good terms, and throughout the process it became clear to both the employee and the rest of my staff that I am committed to keeping good people.
2. Don't be rude.
We have all seen the bad side of staff departures. The company calls security, shuts down the ex-employee's computer, proceeds to cuss them out or even give them the silent treatment. This type of conduct doesn't get you anywhere. Acting this way when an employee decides to leave not only alienates you from the employee, it also alienates you from the rest of your staff. If you treat one employee like this when they leave, chances are you will be rude when others inevitably leave, too. In the heat of the moment, this behavior will not help persuade anyone to stay. If you have an employee who is going to leave, there is nothing you can do except be positive about it. Make a positive fuss. You can bring a bottle of good champagne, get some cupcakes and a gift, or do something that gets your whole office involved.
3. Talk to people about it.
When an employee decides to leave, be open about it and have a conversation with your staff. This is a vulnerable time for your company, and should be a time for reflection. Be public about the exit, congratulate them on social media, review with them what you are going to say and get it out quickly. You can even take the employee out to dinner and thank them for all of their hard work. Let them know there is a place for them in the future, should they decided to come back. All of this takes some finesse, and you don't want to seem desperate, but it is important that you are appreciative.
Even if you didn't love the employee, there is a benefit to making the exit a positive experience. It doesn't always work out this way, but a positive exit is always much better than the alternative.
To learn more about EO members' entrepreneurial experiences and insights, visit Overdrive, EO's global business blog.