How you treat someone when they voluntarily leave your team or company speaks volumes. Unfortunately, it’s an all too common experience for someone to quietly exit and for the other team members to awkwardly learn the news through side conversations. Here are 3 things that you can do to strengthen the team and company culture when someone leaves.
First, a word about terminology. I’ll refer to the person leaving as a “team member”. This person could be a direct report of yours, or they could be part of a team you lead and a direct report to someone else. It doesn’t matter. As a leader, it’s your job to create an awesome team and company culture.
1. Be Proud
Whether someone was a part of your team for 4 days, 4 months or 4 years, there is certainly a positive contribution that they’ve made in that time. Remember: as a leader, everyday that someone is part of your team is a day that you implicitly or explicitly decide that they add more value than if they weren’t a member. Celebrate their accomplishments. Be proud of their contributions. Speak openly about their successes with the team and at the company.
Don’t be negative — even after they leave. Remember, through your leadership, this person continued to be part of the team. Speaking negatively of them after they’re gone is weak leadership. If you had concerns, you should have had candid conversations about their performance while they were with the team.
2. Be Loud
Being positive and thanking the team member directly is a great start, but it misses the bigger opportunity to create a culture of celebrating accomplishments. You should already be celebrating wins regularly, but a team member leaving is a significant milestone that shouldn’t be missed. Be loud. Mention the departure with pride at team meetings, all-hands meetings, company meetings, in the and in Slack channel.
3. Be Supportive
Wish the person all the best in their future endeavours. If it makes sense to do so, offer to be a reference for them in the future. Again, through your leadership they remained a member of the team. You should be attracting and retaining talented team members to build strong teams that do amazing work. By authentically supporting team members when they leave the team, you’re demonstrating that your care and support isn’t limited to their performance while they’re on the team or at the company. Your care should extend to their career and overall happiness in life.