When The Good Goes
I once told a co-worker I would follow her to the end of the earth. This woman was a mentor to me, was insanely smart and helped me shape my career. She was my boss for a handful of years, and then one day decided it was time for her to move on. I remember the day she told me. She was bored. There was no upward progression in our small startup for her, and frankly, she was sick of the long demanding hours, especially with a young child at home.
This led me into a bit of a tailspin. Who would I go to for in-house mentorship? Who could guide me in my career and who would take over her role? Would I be promoted? I wasn't ready! As her month's notice came to a close, it brought us closer together. She shared the wisdom of that role with me. We divided her duties up to other team members and hired a new manager internally who ended up being great. It was a scary time, but we all go through it.
This is the best case scenario when someone great is gone. You get through it as a team, you pull together and figure it all out. This doesn't necessarily happen for everyone. I've heard horror stories of managers never being replaced, teams left in limbo, and ultimately employees choosing to resign because of lack of guidance and clarity around roles.
So, how do you navigate these tricky waters and come out shining? Here are some of the action plans I've put into play when either leaving a role or being left behind.
Ask For Clarity
When people leave a role, there can sometimes be murky waters about who knows, what is happening and what will happen when the individual leaves. I have always been a big believer in transparency in companies. When someone chooses to leave a role, it's important to let people know as soon as possible to help avoid the rumour mill. First, tell their direct team and then let everyone else know. Naturally, not everyone can be kept in the loop always, but having clarity of what is happening and how best to guide the situation can prove to be helpful for everyone involved.
Ask for What You Want
Generally, if someone is leaving, there is an opportunity for backfilling positions or having a shuffle within a department. While this might not be the correct time to ask for a raise, it can be the right time to ask for further responsibilities, that will help you continue to grow in your role. Remember, a change in the team doesn't necessarily have to be a negative thing. Sometimes good people leave because of the company, but more often than not, good people leave because of better opportunities and the ability to further advance. I've always liked to see a shuffle in a department as a positive thing. This can be the time to ask for what you want and help with the transition period.
Standup for Yourself
Some times when there is a change in an organization, it can cause even more stress, especially when there are no plans to replace the departing team member. I've been in situations where instead of hiring someone to take over the role, they split up the position into a few other people's duties and call it a day. While sometimes this can make sense, more often than not, it doesn't. This is an excellent time to stand up for yourself. Short term, you may have to take on some duties, but it should not be a long term solution. Ensure to make it clear to your manager that you already have a full plate and that while you welcome the opportunity to learn a new facet of your role, you cannot function like this forever.
Make an Action plan
I always suggest to managers not to wait until the last moment to create an action plan when someone announces their departure. The second you know someone is planning a transition is when you should begin to prep and plan out who will be doing what. Who can be promoted internally? Who will need to be backfilled? Can some duties be shifted around to make more sense to the team? Ensure to engage with your team on these topics. I've always believed that working in a silo is non-functioning. After you make the announcement that someone is departing, is the time when you should schedule an all-hands-on-deck meeting to figure out next steps. Having transparency through a difficult time will help your team find the right path.
People leave roles; it's a fact of business in 2019. Making the transition more manageable will help your team, and your business succeed. I'd also like to point out that never take it to heart when someone decides to leave. It is not your fault (okay, maybe sometimes it is!) Even the best managers lose people. Learn from your mistakes and move on from there.