Employees leave, reinforce instead of burning bridges

employees leave

Business owners forget…

… that nearly every employee came from somewhere… before they came to you and often miss the opportunity to reinforce instead of burning the bridge when employees leave.

The employee merry-go-round is a positive cycle that for many business leaders encourage and support. But the act of an employee leaving for others can be thought of as a personal slight or a negative action.

Business owners or managers can at times take it personally when an employee leaves, do not wish the departing employee well, and burn the bridge with this employee who is heading out into the world.

Missed opportunity to reinforce instead of burning the bridge when employees leave.

Employees leave and move on and it is absolutely ok!

It is what I call the employee merry-go-round and in most cases a highly positive step.

How a business owner or manager reacts and then handles any employee departing will speak volumes to the existing employees and those business associates around you.

Importantly it is also the outward-facing reaction and the behind-closed-doors reaction you have to this that is crucial to your existing staff to see. As it all eventually seeps out between those gaps around the doors, in your body language, and your behavior to the departing employee in the future that leaves the mark.

You can be sad, you can be mad, but take a breath, step back and look at the much bigger picture.

Reading this from Bridgette Hyacinth recently reinforced my thinking.

Remember the following when an employee leaves:

  • It is highly likely that you came from another organisation before you started your business or came into your current role.

    We all have a past, it is what makes up positive career growth and helps us to one day step out on our own or strive for that new career step as you once did.

  • Every employee that comes into your organisation came from another organisation (unless a graduate).

    Remember when you are recruiting, when you read their CV and saw all the places they worked before and were impressed with what that had achieved. 

    Yes, they had to leave that business or be prepared to leave in order to now be sitting in front of you at an interview.  The employee-merry-gro-round.

  • Be grateful for the time the employee has been with you and the value they have bought to the organisation and the team.

    It may have been 5 years or 6 months, remember the value whether it be dollars in the door, development of product, research, boosting other staff morale, or even helping you see you need to make some structure or organisational changes.

employees leave
  • Employees do not belong to you, you are fortunate to get their skills and experience for the time you had them for. 

    They may have made you money, or furthered your client base, landed a multi-figure contract, were your right-hand woman or your top sales earner… but they are their own person and do not belong to you. 

    You will fill their spot, their seat, their position and you will be ok. Be grateful for the time you had them with you and what they bought to your organisation.

  • It’s a small world… you will come across them again.

    Whether it be in the industry, working on the same projects, in the supermarket, or on the sports field. Instead of burning the bridge, keep building and reinforcing the bridge and watch it thrive.

    One day that departing employee could be on the panel evaluating your next tender or their next boss may ask them what they thought about collaborating on a project with their old company and are keen to know about your companies integrity.

    What would they say about you? Do you need to mend and reinforce that bridge again? It is never too late to build relations.

Call me crazy but I love to see people happy & succeeding.

Life is a journey, not a competition.

  • They are going somewhere else, think about what exciting things you may be able to partner up with them on in the future.

    Are they off somewhere to diversify their skills, there may be complementary services you can collaborate with on projects in the future. Keep that relationship going.

  • You do not own an employee.

    It is a privilege to work for a business and equally, it is a privilege to have that employee spend more time with you than they do with their own family working for you, that goes hand in hand.

    Respect that and appreciate it for what it is.

    Be human at the end of the day.

  • Be excited to watch employees grow, develop, explore, reach, strive, and in time move on.

    What greater compliment could there be for an employee to move on and be able to look back and say ‘gosh I love where I am going, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the support, encouragement, all that I have learned and great send off I have had from where I have been’.
  • Take the lead as other organisations do by considering ‘secondments’ or ‘placements’.

    As part of your career advancement directive in your business, look at how you may add in options for secondment. They are frequently considered positive career development and seen often in business practice in the public sector secondments and private sector.

    KPMG sends around 40 grads on short-term secondments of 3-6 months each year [source], think about how this on a smaller scale could be applied to your business?

    Worth considering to see how you can connect with others in your industry to share the knowledge that comes back to you in the future.

    There were 269 Public Service employees on secondment in New Zealand as of 30 June 2019, more than twice the number in 2009 [Source].  

    Having worked with many on secondment and other returnees from a secondment with great success there are great advantages to be had.

  • How you reach when employees leave, speaks volumes to the rest of your staff and organisation.

    If you react negatively, think about how this reflects back to them… does it just create a culture of fear and negativity?  If you react positively to the departing employee, invite them back for coffee or significant events, this breeds the culture of inclusiveness and ongoing professional relationships.

    The modeling and behaviour you show at this time are key and are reinforced in this quote “Employees don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses” ~ Angshuman [source].
  • Life and our professional careers are a journey, not a destination.

    Yes, ‘journey’ is an airy-fairy buzzword but is true, what is better than seeing people happy and succeeding. Life is a journey, not a competition.

Lift those around you up.

What a great compliment it is to you if their time with you has inspired them to expand their thinking or to further their career or start their own business or write that book or simply strive for more.

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