How would you handle an employee resigning during a critical time period?
My client came to me desperately when an employee of his resigned last week with only one month notice. His resignation came very sudden and suspicious. This is because in the upcoming 2 months there are many critical deliverables that need to be done by this employee. The resignation comes in three forms - a) we cannot deliver in time; b) the employee is running away from responsibility; c) even if we get new person in fast, there is still learning curve required.
My client is at loss, he started the recruitment process immediately, but we knew it is not easy to find a someone exceptional very fast. I'm in a very tough position as well, as I feel his pain and understand he needs to find someone to fill the position as soon as possible.
What will you do if you face the case?
I came back to my client with this proposal:
"Get an expert to work with leaving employee and within 20 days produce 2 months output, while we are searching for the ideal replacement".
I came up with this idea because I asked the following questions:
1. Our goal is to achieve $X sales next month.
2. What is the impact on the goal of the leaving employee?
3. Which is more important and which cannot force or shorten the time to reach our goals?
4. What alternative do we have?
5. Perform evaluation on all the options and discover how to generate the highest profits even before the leaving employee tender resignation.
What about your opinion?
In my view, the said employee should be offered with a lucrative offer that he cannot deny and also give a helping hand, i.e. another employee that can assist in execution of the job. This will buy some time and less expensive that the process of recruiting another person.
After the job is done and the another person learn the process, then you can deal with the said employee in case he tried to manipulate the situation during crucial time.
JC, you may be surprised by how many people suggested you just let him go. In my experience, even if an employee is loyal and leavin g on the best of terms, their mind immediately joins their new employer on signing acceptance - the body just takes longer to get there. For example, while working out their notice period, it is very hard to muster the same level of motivation and dedication in your old job that you used to have, even if you try your best. Also, any lessons learned in the last few days are more likely to be considered useful for the new job than the old. It's just human nature. Cut your losses and learn the lesson.
I'm confused by the contradiction. Did the employee leave suddenly or give a months notice? It can't be both.
I agree with Alan, this appears to be gross mismanagement for not having contingency plans in place and suggesting the employee is running away from responsibility is not even in the realm of possibility if they were generous enough to give a whole months notice. That's way beyond the call of duty for accountability and should easily eliminate any chance of leaving the company in the lurch.
Many of the answers are found in talking to the employee. He/she knows what the job requires and the conditions that have/might make completing difficult. First, ask the employee to set the interpersonal issues aside. Apologize if necessary. A little grace and contrition go a long way. Using a third party to have this discussion wont be as productive. Then, frame the conversation in the context of serving the client's needs. Find out:
* Who he/she thinks could fill the vacant position. He/ she knows the work better than anyone so keep this communication path open.
* What issues/conditions/roadblocks are in the way to serving the client's needs.
Avoid pulling out the blame thrower or mentioning your disappointments. This is a great opportunity to exercise emotional maturity. As others have mentioned, a 30-day notice is a gift in today's transactional work environment.
The first thing YOU should do is not to feed his panic. This is no different than someone having to leave for an emergency, or the team accepting another high profile project when the team already has a full plate. In short - this is a project management issue. And you should approach the client in a calm manner.
And - in my opinion - it's not logical to try to force the "leaving employee" who is already burned-out and has a short-term mindset train another expert and complete 2 months of work in 20 days. I don't feel that's a winning game plan.
I don't know the industry or market you are working with - so these solutions will be general in nature. Setup an appointment with me to discuss more detail solutions that are better aligned with your specific situation.
There are several project management options:
1) Reduce the scope of the deliverables to fit the current resources.
2) Reduce the complexity of the solution to fit the current resources and talent.
3) Release early and often to the end-client (your client's client). Give then end-user early drafts, demos and releases as the project progresses. Because the end-user is frequently receiving and reviewing the progress, they can tell you which features they really need by XX date, and which features they can wait on. Then schedule the features as the user needs them (versus all at once).
4) Studies show that end-users only use 36% of the entire product. Find out the features the end-user are actually going to use and postpone (reschedule the others for maintenance releases).
5) Accept the knowing that the product is never "done" - there are always going to be maintenance and improvement cycles. Make better use of the rolling delivery cycles.
Last tip is to never make someone "indispensable" - always have pair-training, pair-testing, and a buddy system. I am not recommending that everyone has to be able to do the same things at the same quality. But you should have various team members knowledgeable about other people's areas such that they can stand-in or help out.
I don't know the industry or market you are working with - so these solutions will be general in nature. Setup an appointment with me to discuss more detail solutions that are better aligned with your specific situation. You can setup an appointment at https://www.timetrade.com/book/WFSFQ
If employees leave suddenly or at short notice then there is a very serious problem with the SYSTEM. The employer needs to do a lot of introspection and find that which he is doing wrongly. Mostly it is the "housekeeping issues", those apparently small things that we take for granted and avoid doing or postpone doing that ultimately cause an employee to leave. If there is necessary intimacy between employer and employee it should be easy to see discontent coming or smell it when it is still miles away and pre-emptively take corrective/remedial action. It looks like the employer has only come to realise the importance of this critical employee because he is leaving and apparently the gap cannot be closed immediately without irreparable damage to the company. The best thing to do is to let the employee go and come up with a damage control plan. They have lost the employee but hopefully, they haven't lost the lesson as well.
This might help you handle your employee resigning during critical time. See below: http://worklife.roberthalf.com.au/leadership/4-tips-to-prevent-a-staff-resignation-from-getting-awkward/
I agree with bringing on short term resources to assist in addressing current commitments.
I would also look at those commitments to see if there is any wiggle room. The two month completion dates may be self-imposed, or may be "nice to have" customer desires. If the project slips, there may be little impact if handled well.
Speaking of impact, your customer needs to see what this resignation has done to the rest of his team. They may want to pull together and rearrange project deliverable delivery dates so the delay of the resigning employee's deliverables is less of an impact.
And last, in the bigger picture, it must be known why the person is leaving. Was he unhappy? Why? Are there others involved? If on good terms, would the employee consider consulting part time? Are there personal problems with which your company can assist in the interest of retaining a valued employee?
If it can be determined that the employee has left to go work for the competition, you may want to consider shortening the employee's departure date. Your remaining employees should be of concern. You should work to minimize any disruption this resignation may cause. This means treating everyone, including the resigning employee with respect, but be sure to terminate any negative communications within the ranks and to and from the resigning employee. Keep everyone focused on the job at hand.
I agree with you, Mr. Smith. If someone wants to resign, let them go. If this person who wants to resign takes a counter -offer, then beware, they will do more harm than if they resign at a critical moment. Once someone makes up their mind to go, let them. You will both be better off. You can always find a way.
My first thought in seeing the question was OY, not a good place to be. I think your solution was really the only one available, although not ideal. Perhaps selecting someone through a hiring agency, where you could potentially hire them if they work out, could work. But that avenue is not available for all types of talents. There are expert executive organizations out there though that have all different types of talents available to help out in an emergency.
Back to my initial thought. If this is a small business, then this is a negative reality that really can not be planned for. However, cross training comes to mind even within small businesses. You need to constantly look at your talent pool and make sure you have depth, just like a sports team. I live in Phoenix and the AZ Cardinals thrived on "Next Man Up" this past year. But if they had not been properly trained all along, there never would have been a next man to be up!
I agree with most everyone's comments. Let him go. An unhappy employee will cause more harm than any work he'll produce.
Meet with the team. Challenge them to figure out how to get the work done on time. They know more about the ins and outs of the work than you do. Besides, they'll feel more ownership.
I also agree with bringing in a temporary, albeit expensive, person to work with the team. I'd consider having the team draw up the hiring criteria for you to review-- again, more ownership, more results.
And most of all, get rid of the negative attitude and stop second-guessing the motive of the person leaving. Have you asked? Has he offered? If he's reluctant to give you reasons, let it go. Support his decision so he can leave peacefully.
If the position is in the U.S. one month notice is very generous.
Need to find out specifically why the person is leaving. You might be able to address those reasons that will answer his concerns. However, once an individual decides to leave a company, the basic reasons for that will rarely change. Statistics indicate that even if an employer can do something about an employee wanting to leave, he or she will generally be gone within a year anyway.
As suggested in many of the responses the company has to address the culture and how employees are treated...and make appropriate modifications.
Also, as suggested cross-training is extremely important so other employees can temporarily pick up the slack.
Seems like there is a lack of risk management in your client's organization- identifying risks, assessing likelihood, identifying mitigation strategies. Succession planning, cross training and compensation reviews are all mitigation strategies, but if you haven't identified that a risk exists, no strategy will be ready for an emergency.
A month's notice is generous (at least in the US) and indicates to me that the employee doesn't want to completely destroy the project or the management. Is there no one in the company who can step up (or down from management to worker)? If not, maybe an intense, professionally facilitated project brainstorm session with the goal of reworking the process, work plan and deliverables may be in order. Many times the team members know what work is unnecessary and could be eliminated to shorten timelines and recover your project, along with identifying the critical path tasks that must be done for success.
That said, as a last resort, perhaps your client could renegotiate their commitments to their client. Penalties and/or discounts are the cost of poor risk management. The same result (missed deliveries) could have been the result of other types of risk - weather, fire, hackers, strikes, lack of working capital, etc - all of which can be mitigated if thought through carefully.
What mismanagement! You need to run a company with cross training to consistently avoid this ever happening. Too many companies have some idea that profitability is their main goal. Cutting corners by not hiring enough people serves neither their customers nor them and directly reduces profits. You do NOT OWN your employees. They may leave if you mistreat them. You have to ask yourself whether employee left if he/she wasn't given adequate support, training or time, or was offered something better than second guesses, stress and suspicions.
Years ago I actually was the victim of this treatment. I gave adequate notice and willingly quit a job to return to school full time, but the employer wanted me to work second shift for 3 months while looking for a replacement. Like a fool I complied. With employer's at will clause and no contract, employee has no legal or moral duty to do succession planning/training or to ensure follow through once decided to move on. The onus is always on the employer to understand exactly what a job description entails: Can it be done by an individual? How many people are needed? What resources will it take? Often they don't, leave it to managers, then let managers go because they cost too much to keep, never the wiser as to employee's or manager's roles.
It'a an endless source of amusement reading want ads that itemize scores of skills and talents, petty obvious they had a multitalented employee who got fed up with wearing so many hats. Should've doubled her/his salary. Experts, reliable producers, and SMEs don't grow on trees. Usually, 80% of real work is done by 20% of staff. But management seems to resent those who make valuable contributions.
Understanding the reasons behind the resignation would be a good start, then try to negotiate with the employee on better terms or solving his problems he might encountered during his employment. I think that the employee has chosen this particular time on purpose because he could've had a miss or unfair treatment and he wants to revenge.
I would certainly not stress about it and like Steve said just let them go. If you are worried about them then you either are not confident in your own abilities or you are not capable. A month is more than enough time to find a replacement, if you are looking for someone that is exceptional good luck with that one. There are very few exceptional people in any industry and unless you look a certain way and act a certain way it doesn't matter if you are exceptional because you will never get the opportunity.
If the employee is working on a monthly payroll, then unless his contract states to the contrary, he is only legally oblidged to give one months notice. The reverse is true when an employer dismisses a member of staff, although in the latter case that notice period can be made as a tax free cash payment. This happens a lot with appointments where there is sensitive information which could put the firm at risk, notably The Stock and Commodity Exchanges in the City of London. Usually if made redundant, resignation or summary dismissal,that person is searched and escorted off the premises. The search is to ensure that the
In the case of a junior member of staff I agree with the comments made by all the contributors here who suggest that you take them aside and ask why they want to leave. This is particularly true of the 16-19 year age group who tend to get bored easily, particularly if the job is repetative, and they feel they want to move on to a higher level.
In this case there are only two ways:
1. Allow the to leave if they have a job already lined up (but advise them on how difficult it
is to get a job without already entered a written contract of engagement).
2. If it is available offer them an alternative role within the company and/or if they
genuinely deserve it a pay increase. However, beware of the blackmail factor, where
they feel that if they can do it once, they can do it again- let them know that if they
withdraw the resignation this time, they will not be allowed to in the future.
With more senior staff, if they want to go, then let them. They should be able to make the decision of their own accord. They too may also use it as a" black-mail" stunt particularly Project Managers who are in the middle of conducting a project. Again, if they are going to do it once, they will try again. This should be treated in the same way as outlined with Commodity and Stock Exchange dealers. Sometimes, the contract may include "Gardening Leave" whereby they cannot join the other company for at least a week or may be a month so that easily hidden infotmation cannot be transferred or will be out of date by the time they join the new employer.
Hope this covers all eventualities.
Every situation is going to be different, so you probably have the best approach to your situation. I read someone else say in the comments about finding out the reasons the employee is leaving.
That would be my starting point. Sit down, talk with the employee and really listen to what he/she has to say. See if that individual might be willing to stay even briefly until a replacement is hired.
I agree with Melissa. You still have 20 days to discuss and possibly solve the situation. What is the reason of his resignation? Has your client considered facilitating some coaching sessions for the employee?