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5 things to think about when a key employee quits

In our last email, I asked you what you’d do if one of our best employees quits.

The most common reply that I got was to try to win Nadir back, for example:

“What can we do to keep you on the team?” ~ Frank McClung

“Nadir, are you absolutely sure about this? Is there anything I can do to get you to change your mind?” ~ Alastair McDermott

It’s natural to try to engage Nadir in a discussion and see if you can work things out but in my experience…

Counteroffers rarely work.

Just like many of the replies I got, my first instinct is to counter offer. They are leaving because of money, right? Why wouldn’t they stay if you offered them more?

Unfortunately, I’ve tried making a counteroffer, and even when I was able to retain someone, they ended up leaving within a year. The truth is that money isn’t why people leave jobs. They leave because they feel like there is an opportunity to learn more and make a bigger difference. They believe they will be happier, have more options, be a part of something that is more true to them.

The fact is that counteroffers are bad for employees, and bad for employers too. The trust is broken. You will never look at one another the same way again. Save your dignity and let them go.

“Doesn’t this say a world about how you’ve treated Nadir? “They are giving him a big raise (but still underpaying him)” Learn your lesson now and move on … (from another kind reader)

This is a good start, here are some other ideas…

There’s more than one fish in the sea.

This might have been the perfect person, the ideal employee, but no matter how good they were — you can find another one. I know most business owners hate the idea of hiring (hire a new employee, or get a root canal? Root canal any day!)

But, let’s just accept turnover is a given. People will quit. So either get good at recruiting to find someone else and/or hire an expert who is good at recruiting to assist.

Who is this an opportunity for?

An open spot is an opportunity for you to review your team. Do you have a younger up-and-comer who is ready for that next step? Try to look at each team member with fresh eyes, like you would if they were applying for this job. Maybe your next star is already on your team.

Don’t burn a bridge.

Imran replied to say, “I’d wish him good luck at the new place, and totally nice to him till the last day he is there, and let him know that if he decides to come back you will be happy to take him back.”

It’s a small world. Stifle the urge to kick folks on the way out. Sure, they were a jerk to you at last year’s holiday party, and they left you hanging in that client meeting. This is not the time to talk about it. Wish them success. You never know when their new gig might become a potential client, or their future colleague a potential employee.

Losing a key employee is not the best way to start a day (or a week, or month), but it’s not the end of the world either. As a business owner, you are going to see employees come and go. You can’t let it throw you for a loop. Instead, take it in stride, find another resource and stay focused on your goals.

If situations like this terrify you it might be in part because you aren’t confident that you can attract, screen and hire the talent you need. I’ve got a hiring bundle that might help you do a better job hiring.

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