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How do I manage an employee departure?

How do I manage an employee departure?

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Employees move on to pastures new for a whole host of reasons, including promotion, a new job, retirement, redundancy and dismissal.

Whatever the reason for their departure, good preparation will mean an easy transition period and a smooth ‘bedding in' period for their replacement.

If you're dismissing someone at very short notice, it's not always possible to get the pre-departure preparation completed. However, you should look to get as many of the following actions completed as soon as possible.

  • Understand precisely what the departing employee does. In addition to what is stated in the job description, ask the employee to list the tasks they perform, and the people and procedures involved.
  • Know who employee interacts with. Who does the employee go to for professional and personal interaction? This knowledge will help the new employee identify who to go to – and for what.
  • Create a plan for handling their workload. Start this process as early as possible so coworkers are up to speed in advance of their departure.
  • Remind them of confidentiality. When employees leave, they know a lot about you, your competitors, your client list, your security measures. If they had access to confidential information, remind them of their obligation not to use it or reveal it. If they signed a confidentiality agreement, review it with them to make it's clear.
  • Communicate with affected staff. A co-worker's departure can be traumatic for the colleagues, so call a meeting to reassure them. Explain what steps are being taken to complete projects and to capture specialised knowledge. If the departure also results in a promotion opportunity, be sure to point this out as a positive opportunity.
  • Schedule an exit interview. There are many insights that your company can gain by conducting a structured exit interview with the departing employee – even the ones you are glad to see go.
  • On the day they're leaving, retrieve company laptops, PDAs, mobile phones, USB keys, and other storage devices. Make certain to retrieve all documentation, including company phone books, as well as all company-related keys, pass cards, and ID cards. Inform security and change access codes where necessary.
  • Leaving drinks are the traditional way of waving an employee goodbye. These could be a few short words in the office or a full blown party with a free bar depending on the length of service and the popularity of the employee.
  • Delete his name from company literature including letterheads, websites and company brochures, as well as any internal organisation charts or telephone lists.
  • Take security precautions. Deactivate all network and workstation passwords, all company email accounts and any remote access accounts.

Remember – the more constructively you view and handle this process of change, the more positive and less traumatic the transition will be, for everyone concerned.

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