What to do when a key employee resigns?

Quitting is always stressful. It hurts when good people break the news that they are quitting. It doesn’t just take an emotional toll, but a financial one as well–customer service is disrupted, sales and customers may be lost, other employees are shocked and distracted, and now we have to take on the work of finding a replacement and getting the new person up to speed.

We recommend following these 4 steps in the resignation process:

  1. It isn’t always your fault, and it isn’t always something you can fix. But if you don’t ask, then you may never know. So the first thing to do when a key employee quits, is find out why. Use their departure as an opportunity to learn. Their reasons for leaving can shine a light on certain things within the company that might need remedying. Were there personality clashes with other employees? Is there a lack of career progression? Perhaps they feel the money wasn’t sufficient for the work they were completing?
  2. One of the most important things you can do when an employee leaves is not to be hurt or offended. Don’t take it personally. Maintaining relationships with ex-employees is important; you never know when your paths will cross in the future. The last thing you want to do is react impulsively and say something you might regret that would leave the individual with a negative impression of you and the organization.
  3. Time is of the essence, and employees need to hear the news from leadership, especially before rumours have time to spread. This can quash any rumours before they start. When you do announce the news, demonstrate to your remaining employees that you understand this is a key position and you are in control. This can help calm any fears that employees may have about the changes that will be coming.
  4. Get alignment on what they need and what you need from them before they leave to ensure a smooth transition. It may involve some give and take and could include finishing a specific project or set of tasks, training others to take over these responsibilities to minimize disruption, or even hiring their replacement.
Latest posts by Isik Serifsoy (see all)