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Blog: TAGS How To Recover From Losing A Great Team Member

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Have you ever found the perfect new team member? A person who fits exactly what your organization needs? Hopefully you have had this experience at least once in your leadership career. It is rewarding for everyone when you bring in the right person at the right time. However, there are cases when you find out this person actually is not the perfect fit. Worse, maybe they were perfect, but after a while decided it was time to move on to another opportunity. Either way, there are some important lessons to learn and use in order to move forward when this happens.

Lesson One: Consider What Went Wrong 

What did you learn from the experience? Here are a few questions to ask yourself (be sure to include what did you do well and what would you do differently):

  1. Did you indeed hire the right person at the right time? If so, move on to the next question. If not, what have you learned specifically that tells you this person was not the right hire? What will you do to avoid this pitfall next time?
  2. Was this person challenged enough in the role they were given?
  3. Were this person’s needs met both professionally and personally?
  4. How did this person connect with others in the organization?
  5. How did this person navigate the “political” climate of direct reports, peers, managers, clients and stakeholders?
  6. What did you do to ensure this person was set up for success?
  7. What support did you provide for this person?
  8. What ongoing development did you provide?
  9. Were there opportunities for growth in the areas of this person’s expertise?
  10. Were you surprised when this person decided to leave — if so, what warning signs did you miss?

Lesson Two: Solicit Feedback

What feedback can you get from the person leaving and/or lessons they learned? Here are a few questions to ask the person leaving:

  1. What was your greatest takeaway from your time with us?
  2. Did you feel supported?
  3. Did you feel there were opportunities for growth — both professionally and personally?
  4. Was your role a right fit?
  5. What was your greatest challenge while with us?
  6. Did you understand the “political landscape”?
  7. What affected your decision to leave?
  8. Could anything have changed your mind?
  9. What are three things you would recommend to us in the future to ensure we continue to attract and retain talent such as yourself?
  10. Would you recommend a friend or colleague to work with us?

Lesson Three: Create A Plan To Move Forward

It is important to make sure the message of this person’s departure is communicated properly and you capture the opportunity for feedback moving forward. Here’s how to navigate this process:

  1. How will I communicate the message to others that this person is leaving?
  2. How will I make sure other team members feel supported in the transition?
  3. Is there a successor or will we need to look outside the organization? Is this role still relevant?
  4. What will be done to create an opportunity to receive feedback from others?
  5. How will I reassure others we are fine and moving forward?

The answers to the questions in these three lessons will help you personally reflect, learn, grow and make better hiring and retaining decisions. As your organization grows and changes, it is inevitable that some of the “perfect” hires may not be the best fit. It is also important to realize there are times when a person needs to move on, even when everything has been done correctly.

Moving on is often like a graduation; it is simply time to move on. I use to be a school teacher and I think the best metaphor here is recognizing that we may love a student and be very proud of them. However, we would never keep them from progressing to greater things just because we like what they do for us. One of my favorite sayings is “Your ceiling should be their floor.” Learn what you can and then, let people “graduate” when they need to. Stay in contact with them and be proud that you were a part of their leadership journey and career development.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

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