Blog: What Happens When You Lose A Great Team Member?



Have you ever found the perfect new team member? A person who fits exactly what your organization needs from their skills, experience, talents, connections and even personality? Hopefully you have had this experience at least once in your leadership career. It is one of the most exhilarating feelings! Maybe this person was hired to be a successor for a senior leader or to take over a new division. Whatever the reason, it is rewarding to everyone when you bring in the right person at the right time.

Have you found yourself in this position only to later find out this person was not the perfect fit you were looking for; worse, maybe they were perfect but after awhile they decided it was time to move on to another opportunity? Either way there are some important lessons to learn and use moving forward when this happens.

Lesson one: What did you (the leader) learn from this 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 questions, if not, what have you learned specifically that tells you this person was not the right hire and what will you do to avoid this pitfall next time?
  2. Was this person challenged enough in the role they were given?
  3. Were these 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, boss, 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 on-going development did you provide for this person?
  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: What feedback can you get from person leaving and/or lessons they learned? Here are a few questions to ask the person leaving (ask for specifics, what did we do well and what could we have done better):

  1. What was your greatest take a-way 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: 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. Below are a few questions to help you 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…. Or 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 all three “lessons” will help you personally reflect, learn, grow and make even better hiring and retaining decisions in the future. As your organizations grows and changes it is inevitable that some of the “perfect” hires at one point may not be the best fit for the future. It is also important to realize there are times when a person needs to move on, even when everything has been done correctly. Rather than looking at this time as a loss, look at it from the standpoint of how fortunate you were to work with this person and them with the organization.

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 we may love a student and be very proud of them; however, we would never keep them from passing to greater things just because we like them and they did a great job! 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. Be proud that you were a part of their leadership journey and career development.

 

What lessons have you learned from losing a great employee? I would love to hear your stories and/or questions you would add to the list/s above. If you are interested in working with a coach on how to attract and retain (or even let go in the right way) great talent please contact me today at


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