Most leaders among us believe that managing exits of employees is the HR functions responsibility. Nothing can be far from true. Good leaders make sure that employee exits are handled with care and finesse… isn’t is often said that every employee is the organisations brand ambassador.
Loads of care is taken by organizations in engaging employees when they are with an organization. The same care and attention is somehow given a convenient go, when an employee decides to part ways with the company for personal/professional reasons, what be it. Even worse, the process in mismanaged, for want of time and a want of an understanding of how critical the exit process is, to the employer brand.
Here are 2 real life situations which speak volumes on what could be the best way of exit management, and which serves to beef up the employer value proposition (EVP) in the eyes of all stakeholders.
Victor has served the midsized company from inception, built the brand assiduously by bringing in clients, relationships, revenues, through team-building, and a whole lot of relevant and related tangibles and intangibles. In his stint of over 2 years with the organization, never has he sought any goodies, upped the ante, nor voiced his environmental constraints, nd has accepted decisions of the company, owing to the market conditions with grace and poise. This, despite even a lot of monetary setbacks, and going back on benefits that are promised & legally binding; and a lot of initial promise on how he will have a skyrocketing professional growth, and how his role and compensation will grow as he meets his expectations. Even when Victor has many setbacks on his personal front, he continues his work, sans any attention by the organization.
Time comes for Victor to move on, to nurture his personal and professional life as he desires. He communicates this to the person above in the hierarchy, and his resignation is accepted, taking facts into consideration. He serves his responsibilities; in the interregnum before he is released, a senior most person in the organization comes up and tells him that he cannot go; that he will struggle for survival (issues like food and shelter?!), if he sticks to his decision. Veiled threats are held at him for no reason. It is harassment in its diplomatic form of sorts; many in the corporate office of the organization and even some erstwhile colleagues are pushed to throw muck at Victor; this continues even as he leaves graciously. He quietly moves to take care of his personal and professional priorities, blind to most of this ‘throwing muck’.
Now to John; John has worked with a large MNC, a leader in its space in the country for a little over 2 years; his stint has been fine, his contributions being above average. His presence is always acknowledged by leaders in the organization, and those leaders make it a point to call him for anything that was to do with the good of the long-term interests of the MNC.
John, wanting professional advancement decides to move on, and communicates the same to his functional head. The head refuses to accept his resignation come what may. The next morning, to the huge surprise of John, his boss flies in to his place from the corporate office, and expresses gratitude for the work John has done, and pleads him to stay. The boss says any issues can be sorted out, unconditionally, within the framework of the organizational policies.
However, John sticks to his decision, which is finally accepted half heartedly by the boss. The boss also advises John to facilitate in getting an appropriate person for John’s replacement, and also to help in the client transitioning etc.
In the meanwhile most national leaders from the organization continuously communicate to John, checking out is they can help and make him stay. John’s boss even went to the extent to advising the HR to check if John would prefer to report to someone else, yet stay back in the company. HR also is constantly in communication, and checks what all separation issues need to be addressed; by when moneys of settlement are needed etc.
On the last day of John’s service, his boss again travels down to his location, and bids farewell with lavish praises. Most regional leaders of the organization and most teams were in attendance; even an hour before the close of that day, a functional head tells John to join his team, and he would take care of professional and personal needs.
To cap it all, John’s boss writes a mail to every employee in the company, across the country, and marked to all regional and global leaders, that John’s work at the company was great, and it was a matter of pride to have had him working for the company; wishing him the best moving forward. HR also ensures that all what is due to John is taken care off, without any need for following from his side.
From these real-life stories, it is very clear that John will be a great brand ambassador carrying the brand flag forever. Needless to say, Victor will be a bitter man, carrying only bitter memories.
(Both John and Victor are real life instances, with organisations that dealt with exits in a diametrically opposite fashion).
Managing employee exit, in commonsense parlance, is all about etching great memories of the organization, in the mind and heart of the exiting employee.
One step ahead, it is high time organizations had a formal SOP on managing exits well!