Why I cheer when employees leave #blindpost

by jeffhilimire on February 8, 2013

This is a blindpost suggested by @gumboshowjoe. He didn’t think I had the b&lls to write it. The original article, written by Chris Seper, can be found here. And as usual, I didn’t read the article before writing this…

Let’s start with this fundamental point ~ there are two types of people that leave a company: those that you want to leave and those that you don’t want to leave. I’m assuming we’re all on the same page that we should all cheer when people that we want to leave the company, actually do leave the company. Whether you are an employee or a manager/owner, there are just people that don’t fit. And we can all be psyched when they leave, either by their choice or the company’s choice.

So I’m talking now about the people that you don’t want to leave. Why would I cheer when they go? The best place to start explaining that is to lay out some of the reasons people leave.

1. They want more money. All fair and good, people should be able to make more money if that’s the driving force for them. If they came to you first to see if you’d match their offer, then that shows that they likely really do want to stay and of course, you’d have the option to match. However, if they don’t give you the option then there are other reasons they are leaving. And I’m of the opinion, if someone doesn’t want to work at your company, then you’re better off if they leave and allow you to find someone new.

2. They want an opportunity to grow in ways that you can’t provide. There are times when someone reaches their peak at a company and the only way for them to grow is to leave. Or the job they really want at your company just isn’t available to them at the time. Hopefully, if they’re great, you’ll be able to bring them back at the right time. But I’ll never have a problem with someone’s career not lining up with what your company has to offer and that being why they needed to leave.

I have several examples of this one. We’ve had someone that was doing great leave to go to a brand so that he could really dig in and do something special with one company. And he’s kicking butt there and I love to see it. We had one guy leave to work at a start-up, only to come back after a while because we had created a start-upy type of role at our company. I’ll always support someone leaving to start their own thing.

3. They want to change careers completely. I’ve had several of these along the years and I’m always very happy when people come to this realization. The trick is to really think about the pro’s and con’s of this decision. Yes, if the person is an over-achiever or a real asset, it will be hard to replace them. However, if their heart isn’t into it anymore, do you really want them to hang around and be unhappy, even if it doesn’t effect their work (it will)?

4. They aren’t passionate about your company. I believe everyone should figure out their passion and find a way to make that their career. People spend so much of their time at their job that they should enjoy it, and as a manager/leader, your best people are going to be the ones that love what they do. And you definitely don’t want people faking enthusiasm!

5. When their departure becomes the best day of their career. I have to admit this was something that surprised me the first, and only, time that it happened. Last year we asked someone to leave because we felt he had reached his limit with us and that he could have more success somewhere else. It was a tough decision, one that I wasn’t fully on board with but I supported the leader who was making the decision, and when the day came it went down badly.

He was shocked and upset, and admitted to me later that initially it was one of the worst moments of his career. However, as the day went on and he talked to people about it, something magical happened. He said that people from all over the company were coming to him and expressing how much they loved working with him, how they’d miss him and asking how they could help. There were people that he didn’t even know well coming and telling him these things. He told me that by the end of the day, he felt better about himself than he had in years and was excited to see what was next in his career.

In the end, I really can’t think of any situations when I shouldn’t be cheering when people leave. If they want to leave and you can’t make it work for them, then everyone is better off. Worst case, you’re disappointed they left but it gives you a chance to fix whatever is broken that caused them to leave, making your company better in the long-run.

  • http://twitter.com/GumboShowJoe Joe Koufman

    So did you read the original article after the one you wrote above? What are your thoughts about what Chris Seper wrote?

  • http://welcometojmart.com/ Josh Martin

    You forgot #6. When they have beaten everyone in the entire company in Ping Pong and need new competition. ;)

  • Jason

    Great post with great viewpoints.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    Finally read his post. I agree with him generally, though for companies that aren’t growing. If a company is growing, then there should be plenty of growth opportunities for your employees and therefore I’d reject the notion that you’re never going to keep great employees long-term. If you’re growing and you have the mentality that you’ll let great employees try new things, and you have a great culture, I think you can create a scenario that keeps great employees. Not saying I’ve done it, just saying I think its possible ;)

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