Managing a ‘One-Man-Down’ Situation

The insatiable demand for ‘more’ arises in daily human endeavours and the same applies in the corporate world. The fact remains that job transition is a present reality with professionals constantly seeking ‘greener pastures’, more challenges and higher opportunities and benefits. Every company, be it private or non-profit, usually feels the impact of the exit of an employee especially when he or she is a key and efficient one, for example, a team lead. It usually takes the company or the rest of the team some time to recoup from the shock, then quickly adjust and adequately fill the vacuum.

Such scenarios have played out, times without number, whereby an employee notifies the company of his/her impending exit and executives are at a loss on where to begin. They have a tough time trying to cover for the exiting or exited employee’s responsibilities and create a plan to fill the role. Management, at this level, is expected be prepared because such cases can occur at any time, in various organisations and on a daily basis.

A noteworthy tip is avoid taking your employee’s exit personal but prudently utilize the time frame before his or her actual exit to gather all the necessary information relating to his or her functions and present assignments. Ensure a comprehensive and efficient handover is done. One way is to get the employee to document a handover note, and make internal arrangements on how the existing team members would re-adjust to carry out additional assignments pending the employment of a suitable candidate. Every project has its peculiarities and for that reason you must retrieve as much details as possible, including contact numbers of clients which may not be privy to all members of the team. The exiting employee must also quickly highlight any deadlines to avoid putting the company in a bad light with clients. If there are certain duties that cannot be put off or delegated, he or she would need to conclude them before leaving. It is important to create an atmosphere where other employees are able to understudy and fully understand the dynamics of functions so that they can fill in that gap.

Another way to consider this is for an executive to always carry along all employees, ensuring that they understand how their co-worker’s exit would affect them and the importance of moving ahead in spite of the obvious gap. Make them aware of the probability of having ‘temporary’ additional duties and why the company needs to still deliver on clients’ expectations. Carry out a strategic mental assessment of each individual within the team, figure out those who can comfortably and efficiently take on more responsibilities. Hold a quick meeting with everyone and update them on recent management adjustments and appoint the more capable candidates to oversee the various functions in addition to their original job descriptions. Also, reassure them of your support.

It is important that you hold a brief session with the new appointees to get their opinions on the ability of the team members to be able to manage their additional duties or whether there is a need to get external interim assistance. The interim help can be chosen from within your network. For instance, former employees that have done the job in the past or better still, engage the services of professionals who are experienced.

Whilst this is on course, begin to review, re-strategize and redefine the requirements for the vacant position before you place any advert for it. Look thoroughly into the duties of the exited employee; seek the opinion of other employees on what to look out for in the next viable candidate. This would help to determine whether more functions should be added, what skills the candidate must possess, level of experience and education plus other important management concerns. To buttress objectivity and a good working relationship, you can allow the exiting employee to recommend a candidate within or outside the organisation who would be a worthwhile substitute.

More importantly, do not burn bridges. Try to maintain a good rapport with your exiting employee. Be open-minded and genuinely happy for the employee’s success, thank him or her for serving the company to the best of their ability while wishing the employee continued successes in future endeavours. Remember to leave the door wide open in the event that he or she decides to return to the organisation in the near future. Returning employees add more value to their companies most of the time especially because they already understand the dynamics of the company. At that point, you can leverage on their external experiences and contacts from previous employer(s).

In summary, employee exit isn’t so bad after all if executives know how to effectively manage the situation. It may just result in your organisation’s next big break.

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Image Source: The Huffington Post