When Two Weeks’ Notice Isn’t Enough

When Two Weeks’ Notice Isn’t Enough

For organizations that derive most of their business value from their talent, the departure of a single employee can be very costly, even more so if it comes suddenly or unexpectedly. In this talent-focused business environment, the traditional practice of giving two weeks’ notice of intent to quit can leave employers with too little time to manage and prepare for an employee’s departure or begin the search for a replacement. Talent Economy associate editor Lauren Dixon highlights the different course being charted by the Chicago-based employee communication software company Jellyvision:

Jellyvision uses what it calls a “graceful leaving” policy to help both the organization prepare for open positions, as well as departing employees to have a support system for their desire to move on. When an employee begins to job hunt, considers applying to school, thinks about moving, etc., the company’s policy allows them to set up a conversation with their manager about the idea and to explore potential next steps. Managers can then provide contacts for networking and accommodate interview times — all while the employee does their work as usual. …

This policy also allows managers to better understand what the employee wants from the job, and the two can potentially make that change internally. For example, if an employee considers leaving for a managerial role, they could explore that opportunity within Jellyvision, thus retaining the worker.

Dixon hears from several experts, including our own Brian Kropp, who agree that approaches like Jellyvision’s “graceful leaving” are preferable to giving employees the cold shoulder once they announce their plans to leave. Letting employees know it’s OK to leave makes them more likely to give ample notice and even participate in training their replacement when they do, and increases the likelihood that they will return to your organization later on in their careers.

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How to Lose a Star but Keep the Starlight

How to Lose a Star but Keep the Starlight

In the Harvard Business Review, Rebecca Knight passes along some expert insight into how best to pass on the wisdom of high-performing employees when they leave your organization. One suggestion she offers is to create an apprenticeship of sorts for their successors:

If you have months for a transition, [Dorothy Leonard, professor emerita at Harvard Business School,] suggests creating a “carefully constructed action plan of learning,” whereby the “highly skilled, deep smarts employee is paired with one or more replacements” so they can observe her in action, learn and practice new skills, and receive feedback on their performance. Consider it “an accelerated apprenticeship.” The learner might sit in on a conference call to hear how the expert pitches clients or attend a meeting to observe her soliciting input from colleagues in another department. After a period of shadowing, give successors a series of “mini-experiences” so they can try doing the tasks on their own. “We don’t learn deeply by checklists or lectures,” Leonard says. “We learn by doing.”

Knight’s sources also strongly recommend that you focus on maintaining good relationships with former star employees, starting in the offboarding process. Those relationships leave the door open for you to come to them with questions later or hire them back as consultants or “boomerang employees.”

This is all useful advice, to be sure, but I’d love to see an article that also looks at deciding what knowledge not to transfer. Almost anyone who leaves is also taking with them a few weaknesses you don’t want duplicated by the next person—how do you prevent that from being transitioned?