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!