I Just Lost A Great Employee – Now What Do I Do?

There are few things more frustrating for a supervisor or manager than when one of his best employees leaves. Something happens when a good employee develops and becomes a valuable member of a business or organization. A synergy develops where that person produces far more than would be expected from a regular employee, and when it’s lost the deficit is immense.

Replacing such a valuable player on a team is frequently impossible because what made the good employee so “perfect” depended on the various relationships she had with management, peers, clients and whoever else she worked with in her role.

Stop and evaluate

In reality, the best step to take after losing a good employee is to stop and evaluate why the loss occurred. This can be rough because it requires a manager to look in the mirror and determine whether some of the cause was leadership’s fault. People leave jobs for a number of reasons, but those who do usually do so because working with people is now unfavorable. Yes, if someone is offered twice their current salary, they are going to jump. However, people usually leave for little more in pay but more importantly to get away from an environment that may have soured.

Is it a single case or is there a systemic problem?

Also, the reason that causes a good employee to leave can have other valuable staff on the fence ready to leave as well. So it’s important to determine the cause quickly. In this regard the most accurate source is the departing employee. An exit interview allows a supervisor or HR manager a chance to learn more. They should always ask the departing employee if she will sit down for a discussion on the last day, with no ramifications, just to know what could be changed or improved. Some departing employees will refuse, but some will take the opportunity to open up. The exit interview information gained can be critical for pointing out what needs to be changed to improve future retention. And in a few instances, exit interview discussions can convince an employee to stay on board if management shows a sincere interest to solve a problem.

Start recruiting a replacement

Once the valuable employee has departed, recruitment should focus on trying to find the next new applicant who both fits the skill-set need as well as the organizational culture. Just getting someone with skills can be a mistake if he doesn’t understand and agree with the company culture. For example, the culture may be “solve problems 24/7 when needed” but the new hire may believe work is over at 5pm. That will create a fundamental conflict for a team when the crisis demand hits and people need stay after.

Good employees don’t stay forever, but when they leave, lessons can still be learned to avoid future losses.

Have you ever lost a key employee? How did you replace them?

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