How to Stay Productive When an Employee Leaves

As happy and engaged as your team might be, chances are, they’re not going to stay with you forever.

We love our team, and we try our best to help them grow and progress. Whenever one of our team decides it’s time to move on, we support them and wish them all the best.

Employees leaving your company to take the next step in their career journey isn’t usually cause for alarm. With the right beliefs and processes in place, you will be able to say goodbye to great employees, without sacrificing your company’s productivity.

Here’s a few tips on how your company can stay productive when an employee leaves…

Identify and understand the employee’s responsibilities and processes

While you’d probably like to think that managers always understand exactly what each team member is doing, and how they’re doing it, at all times, this usually isn’t the case. Unless you’re spending your days micromanaging, you probably don’t know every little thing everyone on your team does to keep your company running.

When you learn that a team member is going to be leaving you, you need to start gathering information that will help someone else take over their role, says organizational psychologist and leadership specialist, Dr David G. Javitch

“You’ll need to know how the employee performs tasks, with whom, with what degree of exactness and with what standard of quality. Additionally, you ought to know who needs to be copied on memos, e-mails, summaries or “FYIs” regarding those tasks.”

Make a transition plan

Now that you have a grasp on what it is the employee does, and how they do it, you need to start making a plan for the transition of these responsibilities to someone else, whether you’re delegating them between your team, or hiring a replacement.

Katie Douthwaite at The Daily Muse recommends working together with the employee to make a comprehensive list of what needs to be done…

“Her idea of what needs to be finished up before she leaves the company may differ from yours, so it’s important to collaboratively make a list of all her regular weekly duties, the projects she’s currently working on, and clients she keeps in direct contact with…You should also decide together how to proactively contact the employee’s regular clients, vendors, and colleagues so that their emails and phone calls won’t suddenly go unanswered.”

Don’t lose that employee’s key values

When programmer Jamis Buck decided to leave Basecamp after 9 years, CEO Jason Fried knew he couldn’t let Jamis’ legacy leave with him…

“Maybe you’ve had a similar experience: A key team member takes with her a piece of the company’s soul. But the situation also presents an opportunity to make sure that the person’s values stay with the company…”

Sit down and think about what made your employee so special. What did they contribute to the company that you want to hold onto?

If your employee wasn’t quite as beloved as Jamis, take the time to think about why that person wasn’t the best fit, and how you can take steps to improve this with future hiring decisions.

Stay positive about the change

Finally, stay positive.

You have helped someone to grow and progress in their career and that’s an amazing thing to do. Not only will this change be good for your employee, but it will give you the chance to learn about your company and improve things in the future.

Chris Seper, Founder of MedCity Media, says he always cheers when employees leave his company…

“I look at working with employees the same way I look at building my company. If I build a great company someone is going to want to buy it. If I have great employees who work hard, do well and grow professionally, someone will eventually want to come along and “buy” them too.”

How do you deal with great employees leaving your company? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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