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?
Hi JC - your 1st priority is to assess the exact impact this will have on your client's business if he does not achieve the target. What tenure does the employee have at the company because if he has a decent period of service you might be able to get the employee to work a little longer so the company can achieve its goals. Finding out the reason for the resignation would also be important as this would determine the mindset of the employee and whether it would be wise to ask him to assist over and above the notice period.
I think a valuable lesson has been learnt by your client i.e ensure there is sufficient succession planning in place to prevent a repeat of such from occurring.
Hi, I have a totally different view to many others.
This is an opportunity, I would place the employee on immediate garden leave and remove from the business.
This means pressure on the remaining team and less risk of a disgruntled employee sabotaging a critical position.
I would not look to replace as a knee jerk reaction.
I would look to bring in an outsourced solution for the interim, thus leaving time to re-evaluate the position.
If the work can be completed remotely then this option opens up a complete new opportunity for the company.
Not for the faint heated but it has always produced results for me.
This isn't the employee's fault, but a management failing and I'll come back to that in a minute.
Your idea of getting the job done come what may is a sound one and the client should get on and do that.
However, this is a management failing on a number of levels and I'll explain why, but first, employees are allowed to leave an organisation when they see fit. That may be at an inopportune moment, but that's life – they don't owe the company any additional loyalty if their objectives are better met elsewhere.
If this employee is 'running away' from the responsibilities, the you have to ask whether they were ever up to the job or if something catastrophic has happened.
In the first scenario, managers should appoint the right people and then manage them to be sure they are not only OK, but developing. This helps you weed out those who can't and reward those who can and will.
If this is a response to a stressor in the home or office environment, why isn't the management trying to discover the former and aware of the latter?
The reason I am quick to blame management here, is they have also clearly developed a role (or allowed the individual to develop) a role which is indespensible. That is a dangerous thing to do in any company and is generally indicative of a lack of proper management controls and processes.
Get your client through this sticky period and then get them to do a root and branch review of their management technique. Not by 'sending HR in' as suggested somewhere, because the common misconception many have is that HR does this for you – it cannot.
HR can do the heavy lifting in terms of policy, ensuring your company is compliant with state and federal laws and advise management on good practice, but HR doesn't manage the people on a day to day basis – that is the responsibility of managers/management.
If you don't train your managers in how best to manage your staff, you are riding a rollercoaster of labour relations that can leave you in trouble with your clients or, in some jurisdiction (UK/Europe for instance) up before employment tribunals.
When someone wants to leave, let them leave. A person staying on because of promises will still find a reason to leave. Most important is to find out the why. Because if the they why is endemic within the company, other problems are waiting to bubble up. Without the Why your default position becomes one of permanent fire-fighter.
I understand your client's predicament, and from what you have explained, your client did not have a proper succession plan for worse case scenarios like these. I suggest that when you get a replacement, you advise your client to pan out succession plan for each critical position in the company.
Secondly, getting an expert (or consultant) to work with the employee is like looking for another needle in a haystack. Cost of hiring an expert will (on a per day or hourly basis) will jump 200%. It is almost the same as looking for the permanent replacement. But if your client is OK with spending extra costs, go for it.
Suggestion: Identify a few employees who works together with the resignee, and find out how much they know about the work - get the resignee to extend the notice to 2 months and train the other employee what is needed to achieve sales (if sales is most important)
The fact is your client won't be able to achieved the desired target of sales if the employee leaves the company. your client shouldconduct an informal meeting should not be official just to dig deep to the reasons why he is leaving the company.
It would be hectic task for your client to hire a new one and train him. What I would suggest is to listen to him first then take a decision.
If he is not ready to stay what I would recommend to either hire some one from you competitor or else hire some one who has more potential.
It is shows weakness of your internal policy, but presently you will offer percentage of live project to your employee and at the same time search his alternative and for future revisit your hiring and firing policy and also sign in any job bank portal,...
Firstly, there are indications that an employee is likely to leave.It is upto the organization to monitor these indications.These may be in the form of a drop in performance, absenteeism, a lax attitude to work.. If the organization especially the concerned superior has not seen the indications, it is unfortunate as the employee is supposedly a Hi- Po person.
Secondly what is the guarantee that the employee delivers to your satisfaction during the notice period?. Pressure him to deliver and you may find him absenting himself more frequently.What you should do is to either take on the project yourself or find a reasonably capable person to execute the project till such time as a suitable replacement is found.I would advise you not to give ANY employee an aura of indispensability.A proper hand over to a temporary incumbent will be the preferred solution.
Multiple consultants may be tasked to find the ideal replacement for the resignee.
You may be setting yourself up for failure with a proposal that is dependent upon getting two months of work out of an employee in 20 days. If you are correct in assuming that this employee is "running away from responsibility", what makes you think that this person is about to change their behaviour? And even if they aren't, why would anyone agree to that? I'd be concerned that you've just made a promise that you, in all likelihood, will be unable to fulfill.
PS: In Canada, employees can be compelled to stay longer.
Have you asked the employee if they can stay on longer? Have you asked the employee why they are leaving as it is really important to establish that. I like your questions. You might wish to consider whether you can get a skilled and experienced temporary employee from an agency to help out whilst you recruit a permanent employee or get someone in on a contract basis, which may cost more up front however you are more likely to meet your goal. Hope this helps give you some options.
Below are few of my opinions.
1. It is always good to have a second line of manpower, who holds important portfolio. In times of emergency and unforeseen situations, the second line person will take over the responsibility.
2. Alternative, you may outsource the work to a third party on a contract basis, till such a time that the project is completed.
3. The employees working in profit centres need to sign a undertaking that they will not leave the job without advance intimation atleast 90 or 120 days and if they happen to leave within this period, without advance intimation, they will replace the person thro one of their contacts.
This is why, you should respect and take care of the people you hire.
People who are loyal to you, no matter the pay rise at stake else where, will not leave you, when you need them.
Loyalty comes through being a friend to your employees, allowing them a sense of ownership over their work and the company. Right management attitude equates to less turnover problems.
I am not saying this is the probable issue in the above scenario. It is one way to avoid the above scenario to a significant degree.
Dear all, thank you for all the exciting answer and really appreciate your input. There are so many answers, therefore I am using here to thank you everyone.
I like all the answers - inside there include how different people react differently to a same question and how people at different culture perceive thing differently. There is no right or wrong, and in fact I find all the answers are right from they own stand point. However I like to stress on how I came to the decision I had made and share that to everyone:
1. I done many thinking before derive my approach. Initially, I went into the "Why?" mode - why he wanted to leave, how can we retain him for this crucial period ...the reactive management geared up. But you know, the reasons given by the leaver may not be 100% correct, some real reasons had concealed. The company never complain about the employee, even when tender resignation - the company's policy is to respect the will of the employees. In normal situation, one month notice is sufficient - it is because we are now in a critical time, one month become almost an impossible task.
2. Yes, we did go for the "Why" as a further investigation but immediately, at the same time, we go into "how". To cut short the "why" - some reasons help us to refine the further management approach while some reasons help to react immediately - e.g. leaving employee offers working over the weekends after he left the company until the crisis tied over + he also recommended 3 potential candidates (although not suitable - but thanks for his help) immediately the next day after his resignation to us + he also extend his help in future as an outsource person as and when we need him.
3. But than we still need the "how" to solve the immediate problem facing! And that is why we get a expert in to work with the leaver to:
- understand whether the reason of leaving is due to work or due to personal
- to increase productivity (which we notice it increases by 3 times) as we suspect the leaver use a methodology to take long time to produce and hard for the next product line to continue from there. The expert changes the approach and increase productivity at the same time.
- we hope to get someone in soon so that he/ she can learn from the expert at the same time.
In these 2 two days of observation, I notice that the leaving most probably due to the employee wanted to product result as perfect as possible, thus took up too much time, working overtime almost everyday without complaining. My client appreciate his hard works but keep remain him abandon his approach of producing the work as it is both time consuming and causing even more problems for the next person to continue the production. (sometimes it is good to be simple than making thing too complicated).
The employee probably feel that my client not that "love" him despite the many hard works, this may be the trigger point (on top of other reasons) for resignation. However as my client had been treating the employee very well, thus the employee still trying very best to repay kindness through continue support even after leaving the company.
Melissa is correct as well are others.
Some people do bale when there is a deadline coming if they know they cannot handle the time line.
This is what I would look at. Is it feasible for one person to do what they have/had to do? Do you have another person that can jump in and help accelerate the process to meet the deadline prior to them leaving? Ask for a commitment from them to perform their highest till the end of their
Doubling sales can possibly have a negative effect on the service you offer your clients. Things always change and sometimes not the way you want them to. It is what you do with it that will make the difference. Like a sail on a boat when the wind changes swiftly, you reposition the sail to stay on course. Re set your plan to meet your targeted timeline.
Best of success. Gil
To many questions remain unanswered. I am drawn to ask, has anyone sat down with the candidate to determine why he has decided to leave? Much can be determined by having an exit interview and getting feedback. Also, if employer can keep the employee what is it worth to the employer in order to get over the hump and meet customer expectations and revenue targets? Bonus, performance reward etc. I would check both of these factors before trying anything else.
I believe that you are feeding to much energy into the loss making it greater. You have the bitter taste of betrayal involved in this dynamic. You are overthinking it. You say it all in the short entry on number 4. Okay, what are the alternatives and how can we use them to erect a quick contingency. Keep your eyes ahead on what you can and will do now. Discerning the impact of getting let down has no purpose or use. Always move forward and never waste time analyzing what needs to be put behind you...Just a thought
I think that you are approaching it in the right way. Some questions that I have are the following: Why is this employee leaving? Is it monetary or is he/she disgruntled? This is important because if they are disgruntled, chances are cross training is not going to help because he/she wont care much for training the next employee because they have one foot out out the door. If its monetary then maybe offer the employee more money to stay if they are an effective worker. Maybe they can freelance for you to get these projects done and train the new higher as well
Finally I would say you must go at this with the right attitude. Assure your client it will get done and you will deliver. Take the stress away from your client put it on you and leave them feeling confident. You must also use this opportunity to cross train your employees so you are never again put in this position and show your client and future clients that there is no one person above the team. Everyone in group can take over and keep things going, This will eliminate vulnerabilities within your company and instill confidence in your clients.
One harsh suggestion was to stop the settlement dues.
My personal suggestion is ask for reasons, if negotiable than do it
The other is to take care of the employee by giving personal touch.
This is obviously China or another country that can compel an employee to stay against their will. So taking the perspective of a US employer, cut them loose. In the US 2 weeks is customary but not compulsory in AT WILL employment. If this is the US, have the next consultant sign a penalty clause for early termination of the contract.
I think that Steve Smith is right - let them go. There is good advice here, but there is another aspect to this -- what are you going to learn? There is a risk that almost no company considers -- Knowledge Continuity. The question has been asked in other fora, "Is anyone indispensable?" The task of leadership is to ensure that the answer to that question is, "No!" The way to do that is to make doggoned sure that you have not allowed any critical knowledge to be the domain of a single individual. Otherwise, you are hostage to that person. Guy