What To Do When Your Star Employee Quits
The reality is that, no matter what benefits your organization provides, the risk of losing a high performing employee to the competition is always eminent. While there are some considerations that should be made regarding retention, often times HR and management professionals find themselves in more of a reactionary, rather than a proactive, position.
High performers and valuable employees are positioned for some of the most favorable opportunities.
If your star employee submits his or her two week notice, there are several things that you can do to ensure continued productivity.
Prepare other employees
It is highly likely that your star employee made quite an impact on the organization, and an impression on colleagues and/or clients. Assuming that the employee provided two weeks notice, you will want to openly communicate with those effected by the separation about additional tasks that they will be responsible for; this will allow for any training, explanations and shifting of priorities.
Ensure that productivity remains consistent during the employee’s separation period and after the departure by adequately preparing those that will be tasked with assuming responsibilities.
Play an active role in identifying colleagues to take on core functions, and monitor the status of all hand-offs to be sure that processes run smoothly.
Conduct a thorough exit interview
Regardless of industry or career path, successful and impactful professionals will be sought out by other employers and presented with attractive career opportunities. While there is not much that can be done after your employee accepts an offer of employment from another organization, it is helpful to gain some insight into his or her perspective.
While it is not surprising when an under-performer resigns, there is typically an element of surprise when a successful, dynamic and engaged employee leaves the organization.
The unfortunate reality is that there are very few of these kinds of employees in the workforce, and losing one usually has a ripple effect.
If the employee is a people leader, his or her direct reports may become disengaged due to lack of direction or disenchantment with the organization.
On the other hand, if the individual was in a client facing role, there may be significant impacts on revenue and the company’s bottom line.
Use the exit interview as an opportunity to gather information regarding why a star employee considered another position. Ask very direct questions regarding areas of responsibility that were and were not enjoyable, thoughts about the organizational culture, and elicit information about what specifically drove the decision. It is critical that you err on side of caution when discussing the counter offer or new employment opportunity. The employee will likely be willing to share the pro’s and con’s fairly openly; unlike other exit interviews, this individual is not leaving under unfavorable circumstances and it is likely that the decision to separate was made based on more objective components, such as salary or title.
Find a replacement
In the midst of preparing others and collecting information regarding the cause of the separation, you will also want to begin the process of identifying a replacement. Ideally, there will be a successor that was being groomed to step up at the appropriate time; if this is the case, you will want to make sure that both the separating employee and the successor spend as much time together as possible.
On the other hand, if there is no one within your organization with the ideal skill set and experience you will need to begin the recruitment process for a replacement immediately.
Partner with your former star employee to re-write the job description – it Is likely that his or her performance went above and beyond the scope of the role that was originally recruited for, and in order to keep the momentum going you will need to identify a replacement with competencies necessary to execute accordingly.
Develop a retention strategy
Once you have recovered from the loss of your star employee and hired a replacement, shift your attention to the proactive and strategic side of the dilemma. Apply all of the information collected during the exit interview process to address areas of opportunity.
Also, consider having conversations with other star employees in an open and anonymous manner to elicit their opinions regarding the organization.
While you may encounter some employees that are hesitant about disclosing information for fear of retaliation, attempt to emphasize the fact that the feedback will be closely guarded and maintained with confidentiality.
Use these insights to develop a retention strategy that directly targets your most valuable employees.
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