Losing your star performer at work? Here are four ways you can deal with it

2012 London Paralympics - Day 8 - Athletics
Don't take your best worker leaving personally (Source: Getty)

The rainmaker is clutching a brown envelope and asks for five minutes of your time. Thoughts start racing. Surely it’s not possible? Resigning? No. Maybe? But why would they? This employee gets a great salary, they were promoted last year and you’ve treated them so well. Could they have been dissatisfied with their bonus? Could they really want to leave? As you enter the meeting room and close the door, what you thought would never happen happens. Your best revenue generator resigns. And worse still, they are off to a competitor. How you react to a resignation could have a significant impact on your business and workforce. Here are some things to consider.

Is it worth trying to change their mind?

It’s important to find out why your employee is resigning. There could be a number of reasons. Only when you have a clear picture of why they want to move on will you be able to assess whether it’s worth trying to persuade them to stay. It could be a money issue and you may feel that by promising a hefty salary hike you can get your star to reconsider.

There’s likely to be more to it than that though – and don’t think you can always just throw some extra cash to retain them. If the employee has specific gripes about the business, such as the direction which it is taking or how they are being managed by a particular person, you might not be able to offer ways to resolve their concerns.

Contain your anger and be professional

It would not be surprising if you are angry about the employee’s decision, especially if you are unsuccessful in trying to persuade them to stay. You may be annoyed with yourself, thinking that you could have done more before to prevent the resignation.

Don’t be too hard on yourself and, tempting as it may be, refrain from taking out your anger on the departing employee. Ignoring them or being petty serves no useful purpose at all, particularly as your paths may cross again professionally. Moreover, when your other employees find out how you are reacting, it will send out the wrong message. Be professional, courteous and act with dignity at all times.

Gardening leave and notice

Do check that the employee has provided the correct notice as stipulated in their contract. The contract may also allow you the option of placing them on gardening leave for their notice period. If the employee has access to confidential information and/or is client facing, you may prefer that they stay away from the office. You will have to weigh up whether the employee is likely to damage the business and if you need the employee to work for all or part of the notice period while you recruit a replacement.

Restrictive covenants and confidentiality

The employee may have restrictions in their contract precluding them, for instance, for a certain period of time from joining a competitor, soliciting or dealing with clients or poaching staff. You should remind the employee of any restrictions, as well as their confidentiality obligations and the requirement to return company property. You may wish to make it clear that any breaches will be taken seriously.

And one last tip. Try not to take the resignation personally – it’s just business.

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