What to do When Good Employees "Go"

How to create a lasting relationship with high quality employees.


People leave their job for a number of reasons. Perhaps they are moving. Maybe they don’t like their boss, want more compensation, got a new degree, need more flexibility… the list goes on. I’m Elise with Woodworth Enterprises and I know employee turnover is expensive. Sometimes, its for the best. But then there are times when a person who has invested in your organization, has well developed corporate knowledge, and are vital to the way things work in your office “go”. When these vital people leave, it is a red flag for your company culture! Loosing great employees can really have a negative impact on a company and be a strong indicator that something somewhere has gone awry. They didn’t do it for nothing. In general, people are averse to change. People don’t want to take a new job. Something has to motivate them to go. It could be that they got an amazing opportunity. Another, more grim reality, is that there is a problem that they don’t think can be solved. They know the organization, but the only solution they see left is to seek opportunities elsewhere. If the resistance and bureaucracy of your organization are too great for them, they will go. They know the company, who to talk to, and they drank the cool aid. They’ve transitioned from believing in the mission and vision to an idea that they have to get out of there.

When a good employee, really when any employee, takes a different job, don’t just let them walk away. You might be surprised by what you can learn from employees that take jobs elsewhere. You should at a minimum have a short exit interview. You can use that as an opportunity to get three key pieces of information from them.

1. Why are you going?

2. What would they change about the company?

3. How can you help them be successful? Asking these questions, and listening to their answers, can help continue and create the foundation for a lasting relationship. It can also help you understand any weak areas they identified, and what could be improved. If you feel resistance to asking these questions, or similar ones, then there is yet another reason to examine the issue at hand.

One further thing you must consider is the change that their absence will have on the rest of the team. Sometimes, if a key member leaves, others will follow. By actively managing the change, you can hopefully avoid more turnover.

I’ve found that business is mostly about relationships, and having an exit interview, listening to your people and offering to continue to be a helpful resource for them after they leave your team, can build the foundation for a lasting positive relationship.

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