The Biggest Mistake Leaders Make When Someone Resigns—And What to Do Instead

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The Biggest Mistake Leaders Make When Someone Resigns—And What to Do Instead

Employee resignations are an inevitable part of running an organisation. It is crucial for leaders to handle these situations with care and professionalism. However, there is a common mistake leaders often make when someone resigns, which can cause negative consequences for both the organisation and the departing employee. In this blog, we will explore this mistake and discuss what leaders should do instead to turn the situation into a valuable opportunity for growth.

The Biggest Mistake: Reacting Negatively

When an employee hands in their resignation, it can be a shock to the system. Leaders may feel a sense of betrayal or disappointment. In these emotional moments, it is all too common for leaders to react negatively, either by expressing frustration, trying to convince the employee to stay, or even becoming angry or accusatory.

This negative reaction is the biggest mistake leaders make when someone resigns, as it can lead to a damaged relationship with the departing employee, a negative impression for remaining team members, and potential damage to the organisation's reputation.

What to Do Instead: Embrace the Opportunity

When faced with a resignation, leaders should seize the opportunity to learn, grow, and strengthen relationships. Here are five steps to follow when someone resigns:

Remain Professional and Respectful

Start by acknowledging the employee's decision and thanking them for their service. Show appreciation for their contributions and maintain a professional and respectful attitude throughout the process.

Seek to Understand

Before diving into an immediate response, take the time to understand the employee's reasons for leaving. Schedule a candid conversation or exit interview to discuss their motivations, experiences, and any potential issues within the organisation.

Reflect on Feedback

After gaining insight into the employee's perspective, reflect on the feedback provided. Are there common themes emerging in exit interviews? Is there something the organisation can improve upon? Use this information to identify areas where the organisation can grow and develop.

Maintain a Positive Relationship

Keep the lines of communication open with the departing employee. Offer your support and assistance during their transition and express your desire to maintain a positive relationship. A strong professional network is valuable for both parties, and you never know when your paths may cross again in the future.

Communicate with the Team

When an employee resigns, it can create a sense of uncertainty among the remaining team members. Communicate openly with the team about the resignation, the reasons behind it (without breaching confidentiality), and the plan to fill the vacancy. This transparency will help to alleviate concerns and maintain team morale.

Resignations are an unavoidable aspect of organisational life. By avoiding negative reactions and embracing the opportunity for growth, leaders can turn these situations into a positive experience for all parties involved. By remaining professional, seeking to understand, reflecting on feedback, maintaining a positive relationship, and communicating with the team, leaders can turn resignations into valuable learning experiences that ultimately strengthen the organisation.

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