5 Tips On How To Handle Staff Resignations

By Paul Slezak - Apr. 1, 2015
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We’ve just seen the end of another quarter.

For many companies running sales teams, the end of a quarter means commission or bonus time for the sales agents.

Personally I used to always get a niggling feeling of uncertainty at bonus time. No … not when I was a recruiter! When I was a manager paying out bonuses to my consultants.


Because every now and then, out of the blue, as soon as I had transferred at times a pretty massive amount of commission into their bank account, someone in my team would walk up to my desk and utter the words no manager likes to hear …

Have you got a moment?

Really? Now? 

Yep. The moment your money is in their bank account, they hit you with their resignation.

Sorry if I am making anyone reading this post paranoid given that most sales related commissions will be paid in the next few weeks!

Sure I’ve had my fair share of resignations for many different reasons. The reality of running any team or business is that at some point people in your team will decide to leave. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Despite the fact that these ‘spontaneous departures’ are usually unpredictable, there are certain tactics employers should keep in mind in order to help prevent the repercussions of a sudden and unexpected change or loss in staff.

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1. Minimise disruption to the rest of the team

The sudden or unexpected exit of any team member will inevitably cause a temporary disruption to daily operations. However if handled poorly, the unforeseen impact of staff resignations can cause lasting detrimental effects on a company’s success.

If the message is not communicated promptly and clearly via the appropriate channels, the effects on team morale can be devastating.

The more people feel they are involved during the transitioning process, the fewer disruptions (and perhaps even further unnecessary resignations) you will face down the track.

2. Communicate early

Uncertainty will undoubtedly be at the forefront of many minds, and rumours will start immediately as other team members react and begin to wonder how the resignation of a colleague might affect them personally as well as the stability of their own positions.

For these reasons, early communication is critical to reassuring staff that the office operations, while they may initially experience a slight glitch or bump in the road, will be quickly stabilised and in no time at all will be back on track heading in a positive direction.

Where possible, the overall message communicated to the team should be one of business as usual.

Share information relating to staff departures with your team as soon as possible since once the rumours start, you will end up wasting a lot of time getting the team re-focused and back on track.

3. Communicate clearly

When any change (no matter how big or small) takes place within a business, it is important for a manager to be open and up front with the team about what has happened, and where possible what is being done about the situation.

As a business owner or manager, you may believe that a resignation or change in one part of your organisation will have little or no direct impact on another part of the business. However it is amazing how much of a ripple effect a resignation, for example, from within the finance team can have on certain members of the sales force.

4. Ensure your message is consistent

Whenever possible try to communicate the news of any departure in person and ideally deliver the message to the entire team at the same time to ensure your message is consistent.

An e-mail communicating the news of a resignation can easily been misinterpreted and can be another trigger for the rumour mill to reignite.

5. Treat your departing employees well

We’ve written about this before, but treating employees with dignity, regardless of their position in the organisation, is not only morally
 and ethically right, but it makes sound business sense. Remember that anyone — regardless of their former role — has the potential to have a loud voice online.

No matter how long someone has been with an organisation, and no matter what role he or she may play in the business, transitions in the workplace will have an impact on everyone in some way.

However if managed the right way, not only will the rest of the team feel more at ease with the changes taking place around them, but they will also respect you as the manager or business owner for the way in which you handled what is often a very sensitive situation.

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.


Paul Slezak

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.

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