by Karen Bucks, iCIMS Blogger

If I claimed that my middle school basketball skills would qualify me enough to speak freely on the sport itself, then I would be sadly mistaken. So, as I cannot claim to be an expert or an avid sports fan, I must admit that I did not know about this “Letter to Cleveland Fans” prior to my coworker Mike sending it over to me. Looking past its opportunity for a good laugh, I think it holds a valuable lesson for those in the HR Industry. While I don’t know the politics behind Lebron James’ decision to move to Miami, I think we can all agree that Dan Gilbert’s letter was exactly what you should not do when an employee leaves your company.

Picture this… you are ready to move on, take on new responsibilities, live someplace else, execute a change. You knock on your boss’ door. “Hi Mr./Ms. Boss, I would like to give my two weeks notice. I have been offered a new job working for X and have decided to take it. I have truly enjoyed my tenure at this company and have learned a lot, but would like to open the next chapter in my life.” Regardless of what the employee says, it is how the boss and/or HR manager replies next. Dan Gilbert decided the best and most appropriate way to respond was to do so by vehemently ousting the former Cleveland Cavalier. Now, I can’t speak from a sports perspective, but I can say that if Dan Gilbert was an HR star, he should be reprimanded for his actions and words. What do you usually say?

When an employee resigns there are many things that must happen. Here are a few important ones:

  1. Take a deep breath – When an employee resigns, it usually isn’t personal. If they are telling you face-to-face and giving you two weeks notice, they respect you and the company enough to want to help with the transition. They are just moving on to the next part of their career.
  2. Exit Interview – Make sure to do this. This interview will explain clearly why the employee is leaving. Utilizing this information will help recruiters with workforce planning. Moreover, it may help HR training programs. For example, if the ex-employee cites lack of training as a reason for resignation; than both the manager and HR can work on a program to eliminate this complaint for future employees.
  3. Succession Checklist from Employee – Be sure that the soon-to-be ex-employee is well aware of what knowledge they are expected to pass on to their replacement. Even if the person has not been replaced yet, explicitly written training documents will help the new hire pick up the ex-employee’s responsibilities more quickly.

Having a streamlined process to succession would ensure a couple of things. First, you have all information regarding the resignation on file to secure absolute compliance should the ex-employee bring legal issues to the table. Secondly, you will be able to refer to the ex-employee’s exit information, which will then enable you to strategize for workforce planning, recruiting, and onboarding.

To reiterate, the resignation is not just an isolated incident that has no affect on other processes in the HR process. On the contrary, it’s a spider web, intertwining and connecting in more ways than one. Every HR related action affects most steps in the talent lifecycle and beyond into entire business performance (see HR strategy).

  • Workforce Planning – As you probably know, collecting data regarding all resignations is important for allowing HR professionals to analyze when their “hiring seasons are”, when employees tend to leave, why employees tend to leave, and much more.
  • Recruiting – This is simple. When an employee resigns, it is essential to replace the employee. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly understand the details of the job, in order to find the best candidate suitable for the job.
  • Onboarding – If the employee left for professional development reasons (see Exit Interview), your onboarding process could be reevaluated. i.e. Provide more trainings. Create more outside employee job-specific trainings.
  • Performance Review – Were the resignation reasons not touched upon in the performance review? Should they have been?

Processes must be efficient and results must be easily accessible, as they are all intertwined.

Now, how to best search for a replacement. And should this be an easy thing? Yes. Although succession planning can’t predict the future, it does enable recruiters to decrease the “downtime” it takes to find a replacement. If there is a plan in place that can be rolled out when an employee quits, hiring a replacement will be less stress-inducing.

For example, an IT manager quits.

  1. Evaluate skills needed from IT manager’s past employee performance reviews and ascertain skills required of the job.
  2. Evaluate current employees for promotion utilizing past training surveys, performance reviews and employee recommendations.
  3. If no employee qualifies, look outside the organization, utilizing high-powered searches to sort through the qualified from the unqualified.
  4. Once a candidate is found and hired; refer to the ex-employee’s exit interview to ensure the new hire does not face the same problems.

Of course there may be steps in between, but their are two main points to make here. First, don't react like Dan Gilbert. Second, accumulate all the data you need to be prepared for succession when an employee resigns. If both of these are points are accomplished, finding a replacement won't be so difficult.

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