What to do when your best performer quits

Every business has top performers; talent who demonstrate phenomenal engagement and team management, improve work culture and produce outstanding results – 400 per cent more than their peers.

With this in mind, it is no surprise business leaders strive to hire and retain these huge assets.

But what should you do in the event your top talent announces they are leaving, and that their mind is made up? How do you ensure you retain your other top performers?

Supporting and understanding

There could be a multitude of reasons why your highest performer has decided to quit and it is important you show you respect their decision, and that you wish them well in the next stage of their career.

HR leaders and hiring managers in general are encouraged to turn exit interviews into meaningful retention conversations. An essential part of the HR process, these tools will help them understand why this particular employee is leaving. Here’s what to look for:

  • Did they want a career change? Could you have supported them in changing roles across the company?
  • Did they feel demotivated and if so, was it due to complacency on the part of the manager/s or maybe a lack of opportunities for growth or career development?
  • Did they have a relationship issue with their manager/s or within their team that you may not have been aware of?
  • Did they feel undervalued or their work taken for granted? Was there a lack of helpful feedback about their performance?
  • Did they feel the workplace or their workload was affecting their mental health or their overall wellbeing? Did they feel company culture had changed over time – and if so, what aspects? What did they like most/least about working there?
  • Did they want more money? Did they feel the company lacked flexibility or the ability to provide personalised benefits?

Communicating with the rest of the team

Their departure will affect the team’s morale, no doubt. To avoid creating an awkward atmosphere, be transparent and honest about their resignation and engage with the rest of the team.

If you are office-based, you could offer to pay for leaving drinks or food, and gather your teams to make a speech highlighting their success, before thanking them for their hard work. That said, you could also plan a Zoom ‘leaving do’ if you are working with remote teams.

It is important you reassure the rest of the team you have control over the situation. Tell them how the team will be expected to pick up any remaining work and what steps you are taking to ensure they will not bear the burden of more work, for instance.

By communicating transparently and engaging with the team, you can learn if any other team member feels the same way about the reasons your top performer might have decided to leave.

This will also allow you to adapt and redefine expectations and goals to ensure there are no “follow-up” exits.

We can help you make sense of all this information by reviewing your HR strategy and implement new processes to prevent your top-performing employees from departing. We are also here to help you find new talent by introducing you to the right matches.


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