"I Quit". FACT CHECK: Not a Capital Crime nor a Cardinal Sin
It’s true. I double checked both definitions. Quitting your job is not a Capital Crime nor a Cardinal Sin. One is punishable by death and the other means a serious sin in Christianity.
While it’s extreme to point that out, I cannot tell you how many times I have had to manage the reactions and emotions from managers and leaders when someone quits their job voluntarily for a myriad of reasons.
My 18-year-old niece (picture is of her) recently gave her notice at what was her first job in the working world as a Runner at a local restaurant. She was already anxious to tell her manager she was leaving to pursue a new opportunity that will get her closer to her dream job.
What ensued was a more than unfortunate reaction from her manager that left my niece upset, feeling guilty, defeated and under appreciated for all her valued time she worked there.
Sadly the reaction from her manager felt all too familiar to me, as did her reactions that followed of feeling awful about the interaction between her and her manager.
Here are some reminders for employers on how to react when your employee resigns from their position.
TAKE A PAUSE
While it might be shocking to hear, taking a pause before responding or reacting is so important. It is okay to say you are surprised to hear that news and even sad, it is not okay to make them feel bad for giving proper notice and choosing to leave to pursue a different opportunity.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
I think this is one of the harder ones for managers and leaders. Your employee’s decision to leave their position is more than likely about them, not you. Even if part of the reason might be you as their manager, it is imperative to put your ego aside and remember that at the end of the day this is business, not personal. Becoming defensive when your employee is already navigating this nerve-wracking conversation is not helpful to anyone. Employees coming and going is a huge part of the business world.
DO NOT DO NOTHING
If you say things like "thanks for letting me know" and do not follow up with your employee they have no idea what might happen next. Will they get a counter-offer? Will HR call them? Will they be asked to leave immediately? Can they talk to their colleagues about it? Take the time to layout the process that will happen once your employee has given notice. If you are unsure what your internal process is, tell them you will find out and get back to them as soon as possible.
SHOW A GROWTH MINDSET
Of course as an HR professional I would always recommend an Exit Interview when possible. If that is not possible, as the manager or leader, seek to understand how they got to their decision to leave and ask them if there is anything you can to do entice them to stay. Ask them what appeals to them about their new position they are heading to so you can gain information as to their thought process. It can also help you avoid the next resignation.
CREATE A SMOOTH TRANSITION PLAN
Don’t just agree on their last day. If someone is giving proper notice, it is important that the outgoing employee work closely with the manager to create a plan that allows them to transition their work and announce it to the team as well as external partners in a manner that works for both sides. Make the outgoing employee part of that transition plan is key in the success of their exit.
DO NOT MAKE FUTURE PROMISES
The employment attorneys I know will love me for this one. Do not make any promises to the outgoing employee and say things like “you always have a job at this company”. Not only do you not want to create an implied contract, but the future state of your organization could also change, and you might have to break that promise which can make things uncomfortable for both sides down the road.
The working world is small. Don’t make things harder for your employee. The way someone exits an organization is arguably more important than how they entered it. Your employees will remember how you treated them when they exited and during their resignation period. Maintaining the relationship with them and keeping it positive is most important. While they may not work for you directly anymore, they are forever a brand ambassador of your company and will always talk about how they were treated throughout their time with you, including how they exited the company.
Your employee is already anxious about giving notice due to fear of a bad reaction from a manager or leader. Dealing with the resignation of a good employee isn’t something any manager wants to face. Being prepared of how to react to it is imperative to ensure it is as positive as possible. If the outgoing employee has a good experience as they exit, your remaining staff will know about it. They will also know if that person was treated horribly on their way out.
Remember that your employees leaving is a normal course of business. If you are unsure or struggling with how to respond and plan for an employee exit, please reach out to Alvis People Solutions. We can help you and your outgoing employee have a positive experience during that transitional time.