As a manager, one of the worst things we can hear is, “I’m quitting” from one of our employees. Our immediate thought is that we are already over-worked and understaffed. Then we start thinking about the hassle of recruiting, and trying to find someone qualified to accept the pay for the cost-of-living that exists.
Let me challenge you to look at this differently. Stop thinking about yourself and instead ask how you can make this a great experience for the resigning employee. I know this seems wrong, but remember my No. 1 rule of management is that it isn’t about you.
Two Very Different Experiences
Early in my career, I had two very different experiences when I told my manager I was resigning. And by the way, in both cases they were great opportunities that kept me in the same industry as my current company.
The first one was in 1989 when working for a computer franchise organization called MicroAge. My manager accepted my resignation and then said he wanted me to keep it quiet until he had a chance to communicate it to the senior team. We then walked into his weekly staff meeting only to have him say, “Before we start our staff meeting, Paul has resigned so I need him to leave the meeting.” I was kept from any and all meetings from that point forward. I was named the Employee of the Year 1988 so it wasn’t like I wasn’t contributing and having an impact. I had worked at the company for four years and it struck me as unfair and harsh. It also made my peers feel awkward. I felt like I was being punished for no real reason.
Four years later, I had a totally different experience when I resigned from Compaq Computer. Not just a different experience – but, truly a positive experience. My manager, Ross Cooley, said he wanted to get everything possible out of me before I left. He included me in every meeting he had. He even had me sit down with HR to discuss the recruiting and hiring process the new company used. And he scheduled a going-away party for me.
These were two very different experiences. One made me feel appreciated and valued, while the other gave me the impression I was being thrown aside. Should you care about how the resigning employee feels?
It’s All About the Employees Who Work for You Today
(or that You are Recruiting)
It amazes me when a manager or organization treats a resigning employee poorly. What does that tell all the other employees and how they will be treated when they find a new opportunity? More importantly, who would want to stay and be on your team if you are the manager who immediately shuts the resigning employee out?
I’ve seen situations where the organization instantly walks the resigning employee out and forbids him or her from returning to the office. These are employees who were valued and high performing. You never expected them to stay forever, so why kick them as they go off to grow and advance their career?
I also wonder how you expect any great candidate to take the vacant position when they hear how the former employee was treated. If the former employee didn’t have a positive experience, why would they?
Stop Taking it Personally
Why do some managers make resigning positive while others turn it into a miserable experience? In my opinion, the bad ones take it personally. They view themselves at the center of the organization and every resignation will reflect poorly on them. Or worse, they view the resignations as a vote against them, the manager. It isn’t about you, so stop taking it that way.
Celebrate the new opportunity and look at the resigning employee as a “seed” you are planting in a new organization. Treat them as an ambassador who will tell others about what a great organization they left. Treat them as a reference for any new hire. Can you imagine what I would have said to anyone who reached out to me to get a reference about working at Compaq Computer or for Ross Cooley?
And finally, I hope you have a prosperous and happy 2018. Take the time to look back on 2017 and ask yourself how you can improve as a manager. Did you celebrate the resignations, did you make the changes in your organization that needed to be made, did you show an honest and sincere appreciation for your employees, and did you focus on customer service like you should have? If not, make an effort to change just one thing. FBN
By T Paul Thomas