One of the greatest challenges every manager faces is learning that an employee is moving on. Saying goodbye to a top performer is much more involved than just making sure information is forwarded to the right people. You need to make sure there's a coverage plan in place, a new employee is hired and trained, and the team seamlessly adapts to the change. While two weeks is the standard amount of notice, it might not seem like enough time to accomplish all of these requirements. You need to work hard – and quickly – to fill the position, otherwise your budget and team's productivity could suffer.
Here's how to optimize those two weeks and ensure a smooth transition when stellar talent leaves.
Plan the intellectual transfer
As soon as you learn of his or her notice, start planning the transfer of information. While it's not ideal, many companies fall into the habit of placing specific responsibilities on one professional. He or she may be the only person on the team who knows the details of certain processes or all of the nuances regarding a complicated software program. This doesn't typically pose a major issue – until that person leaves the company.
You should delegate the employee's responsibilities to someone of an equal level on your team, or handle them yourself. Ask that the employee prepare documentation of all tasks before leaving and have him or her sit down with whoever will temporarily cover the responsibilities. Be sure to have him or her keep all important files in a shared space, such as Google Drive or in Dropbox. Although this can be a stressful time, the documentation he or she leaves behind will serve as a useful resource in the future.
Start your talent search for a replacement
Delegating an employee's responsibilities to others on your team is just a temporary fix – and you should assure your team of that. It doesn't just impact managers when stellar talent leaves. The entire team can be overwhelmed as a result. Start preparing a job description as soon as you receive an employee's notice, and work with him or her to craft it. Have him or her weigh in on the job description and candidate interviews. After all, he or she knows which skills and characteristics are necessary to be successful in the position.
Get the help of a staffing firm
With everything going on in your office, you might not be able to devote enough time to the candidate search on your own. Call on the expertise of a creative staffing firm that can select the best candidates to replace your employee. They can do the searching for you while you focus on planning the transfer of work in the meantime. Be sure to explain in detail what kind of professional you're looking for. It may be helpful to describe who your current employee is, which skills and qualities he or she has and why you think he or she was so successful, or unsuccessful, in the position. When a recruiter has all of this information, it will help the candidate selection process immensely.
"Make the exit survey available online."
Perform an effective exit interview
Gathering – and more importantly, implementing – feedback from an exit interview is one of the most important parts of an employee's departure. There's always a reason for leaving, whether it's as simple as more compensation, or a change of scenery, or a more drastic reason, like an overwhelming workload or ineffective management. Encourage your employee to complete an exit interview with the HR department and to be honest when giving feedback. This will give you a chance to learn what can be improved. Chances are, he or she isn't the only one who feels a certain way, and making positive changes according to these exit interviews can help retain talent. The only thing more challenging than a star employee leaving is another one following.
To increase the chances of an effective exit interview, market research tool Qualtrics suggested making the exit survey available online. Not only is it more convenient, but it can also encourage the employee to be more honest with his or her answers. An estimated one-third of employees complete exit interviews. Make sure that your rate is above average, as they can majorly benefit your organization.
Check in with your team
Your team gets hit hard when an employee leaves. Their workload may increase, demands may get more intense and morale may be severely affected. They could be losing not just a coworker, but a friend. That's why it's important to address the person's leaving in one-on-one meetings with your employees.
Ask open-ended questions and get an idea of how each of your employees feels about the transition. Even if they don't divulge a great deal of information, they'll likely be grateful that you're interested in making them comfortable. Assure the team that you're working on finding a replacement, and that they can come to you with any concerns as they come up.
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