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What leaders can do when a key team member leaves for good 


Succession planning, as well as appreciating what team members have brought to the table, will ensure that their departure does not leave a negative impact on the rest of the team, human resources (HR) practitioners say.  

Resignation is a natural part of the employee journey, according to Rhona M. Florentino, president and CEO of UpRush Social Geekers Inc., an HR and management consultancy. 

To allow for a shorter learning curve, “leaders should have a succession planning in place to ensure that, when a key position becomes vacant, somebody has been groomed to take over the position,” she said in a Jan. 2 message on Facebook.  

Succession planning helps identify high potential employees, pointed out Darwin B. Rivers, vice-president of HR of Inspiro Relia Global Shared Services, a business process outsourcing company, and founder and president of the Philippines HR Group, an online HR community.  

“It’s good to look for talents from within and promote employees by creating a developmental plan that would enable them to… be successful in the role,” he said in a Jan. 3 e-mail.  

Leadership can also ensure that team members focus more on what the departing employee has brought to the table — rather than the act of leaving itself, added Ms. Florentino. 

“This allows team members to see that the company is appreciative, leading to a lesser risk of the current employees leaving and following suit,” she said. 

MITIGATING ATTRITIONMr. Rivers wrote of the importance of affording due process to exiting employees.  

“Previous employees are your ‘unofficial ambassadors’ to the outside world on [the] kind of leadership and culture you have,” he told BusinessWorld. “Their experience will affect your future hiring needs and your organization’s brand.”  

Understanding the motivations behind the exit, added Mr. Rivers, likewise gives opportunities for correction and improvement.  

Don’t rush into hiring, advised Forbes magazine in a September 2022 article.  

“As your company has grown, the job responsibilities of each position have likely evolved,” said Nick Leighton, an executive coach and Forbes Councils member. Taking the time to redefine the position’s requirements creates a job description that “clearly communicates your expectations and helps attract the best possible candidates to your company.”  

As with any change, top of mind among the remaining team members would be the question, “Why?”  

Transparency and honesty are the best policy for this, according to Michele Bailey, a business speaker and founder and CEO of culture agency The Blazing Group.  

Take the time to answer questions, she said in a July 2021 blog by Trello, a work management software by the Sydney-headquartered company Atlassian.  

“While considering privacy, sharing as much as you are able about the departure is important,” Ms. Bailey said. Honesty is important too, as “uncertainty over the reason for the departure could lead to rumors and fears that could impact morale, engagement, and productivity.”  

BUILDING CULTUREHow these new team members fit into the company’s culture is as important as what they do, and Ms. Florentino told BusinessWorld that building a good team culture depends on “what you allow and what you don’t allow within the team.”  

“[That] is what sets good culture,” she said. “It is not something that happens overnight, though, and open communication is oftentimes the key.”  

For Mr. Rivers, fostering a healthy culture includes crafting a common goal and clarifying each role.  

“There should be a mechanism that handles the concerns of each team member,” he added. — Patricia Mirasol

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