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Saying goodbye to a colleague

As you grow into your leadership journey sometimes you will need to let people go, other times people will leave

But how do you use these events to best advantage for yourself, the colleague and the organization? Assuming no gross misconduct, here a quick checklist of considerations to help you plan your approach

  1. Always start from a position of gratitude. "Thank you for the time you have spent with the organization". This applies whether you are letting them go or they are choosing to leave

  2. Recognize their contribution - be specific about both effort and outcomes

  3. If they are leaving of their own choice, congratulate them on their new role

  4. If they're leaving involuntarily - be genuine and sincere when you wish them well

    1. Find if there is a way you can help them. Can you provide a reference? Career transition service? Coaching? Resume writing etc.

  5. Internally control the departure narrative - don't delay thinking they'll change their mind or you can hide bad news. Communicate effectively and pleasantly with gratitude. People will remember how this made them feel - pay attention to that messaging!

  6. Negotiate an agreeable knowledge transfer timeline and content (be detailed on this)

  7. Ensure there is an exit interview (if they're going from choice) - don't just ask why they are going - but enquire about their ideas on what you can do better?

  8. STAY IN TOUCH after they have left. The new place they go to may not be as good as they thought. Keep doors open if they left of their own accord. If they were managed out, stay in touch to make sure they're OK. Long serving employees (and leaders) may be seriously affected by being let go. Maintain an EAP or Mental Health capability to support them - their self esteem and mental wellbeing may be seriously impacted

  9. Rituals play an important role in all human societies, the farewell card and leaving "do" are part of the ritual that surround departing or separated colleagues. Make the effort - even if it's only coffee and cake

What would you add to this list?

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