What to do after a senior team member leaves

Written on Jul 20, 2017

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Employees will eventually leave your company: it’s just a part of doing business. But it’s tougher when a senior team member departs, because reassigning – or taking on – their projects, responsibilities and reporting staff takes additional care and forethought.

WilsonF“Even though this departure happened, it’s important to have a plan so it won’t affect the business,” said Felicia Wilson, director of marketing at Dawson. She said business leaders should follow these tips to avoid scrambling when a top employee resigns:

Keep communication open

Succession planning is one way to set your company up for success. Be prepared before anyone has turned in their notice.

“The important thing is for the executive team to meet regularly and have a clear picture of what each member is driving in terms of goals and objectives and what their team is doing,” Wilson said.

By staying in the loop with one another, senior team members will know the important tasks the departing team member was working on.

Regularly cross-train

“If that senior level person leaves, other members of the exec team should have enough insight and be able to slide into that role temporarily,” Wilson said.

Cross training includes “rising stars,” as well. She said standout employees should be regularly identified and given opportunities for leadership and development in the organization. That way, should a position become vacant, there’s potential to have a staff member take on some of the past leader’s responsibilities or be promoted into that role.

Boost staff morale

“When someone of senior management leaves, it places some uncertainty and a little bit of nervousness among staff,” Wilson said.

It’s not unusual for those in senior positions to generate more buzz around the office when they announce their departure. The important thing is to not let the narrative in the office get out of control.

“It helps to have a regular touch-base to reassure staff that their worries will be addressed,” she said, “especially with those who worked closely with the departed team member.”

That includes mentor/mentee relationships. If a leader was coaching someone in the company, they obviously could choose to continue that relationship. But for your organization, it’s important make sure the mentee has someone else they can connect with internally for questions on their career and development.

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