8 Steps Managers Should Take When A Team Member Leaves

8 Steps Managers Should Take When A Team Member Leaves

It can be hard to adjust when a team member leaves, but it’s even more complicated when that team member leaves of their own accord. If you’re the manager of a team, there may be times when you witness these voluntary departures of some key members of the team. It may bring much chaos to the workplace and bring significant losses. But that doesn’t mean you should be scared of it. In this blog, we have listed some steps for you to follow, which you can use first to retain the employee or move on from the departure once you are sure that the departure will occur.

What’s the impact of an employee’s departure?

Loss of talent

A team member’s resignation signals the end of the relationship between them and the team and a loss of talent within the team. The person leaving also takes away a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be difficult to replicate. Not only will the departing employee be challenging to replace, but any projects or projects designated to the departing employee will have to be completed by someone who is not as familiar with the context and objectives of those projects.

Backfilling costs

When a team member leaves, it is essential to be prepared for the backfilling costs that will follow. It includes the cost of hiring a temporary replacement and training that the temporary employee may need to be up to speed with the company’s business. Moreover, finding someone new will itself take the company’s resources. Also, bringing someone permanently in that role and getting them to the same productivity levels takes time, energy, and effort from the manager and the organization.

Productivity loss

A company can experience a significant loss in productivity when an employee leaves. Not only is the individual gone, but their skills and knowledge also depart with them. The departing employee might have been the company’s most knowledgeable person on a particular subject, and without them to provide input, it can be difficult for the rest of the team to keep up. Additionally, the departed employee might have been a significant source of motivation for the rest of the team, and their departure can lead to a loss in morale. Also, there is a significant productivity loss by the time the replacement hire becomes fully productive.

Goodwill loss

Goodwill is the overall impression that employees have of the company. When any team member leaves, this impression gets tarnished. The first reason they’ll figure out of this employee departure is that either the organization or manager are not good enough to keep their employees, or there are way better opportunities out there. There is no doubt that when an employee leaves, the company experiences a loss of goodwill. This loss can result in reduced retention rates as even the remaining employees may start to look for other jobs that are more fulfilling and satisfying.

The disruptive effect on team dynamics

A disruption in team dynamics can occur when a team member leaves the company. It can be challenging for both the employees who have to change their working environment and the manager who faces an increased workload. The employees have to learn how to operate in a new environment, but they also have to integrate into the team seamlessly. The departure of an existing team member will also lead to more workload for the rest of the team. It could potentially lead to additional stress and burnout eventually.

Retention Or Not?

Once a team member decides to leave, you must choose first “If you want to retain that team member or not?” The answer to this question may depend on the performance levels, the cultural fit, and the overall value creation potential of that individual. When the employee discusses their decision to quit, this is the first question you must answer as a manager.

If you try to retain that person, how will you do it? Steps for all that are as follows

Start by assessing the performance of that team member

It must be overwhelming for a manager when a team member leaves suddenly. However, there may still be a chance to retain them. But, how will a manager know whether they should retain this team member or not? Assessing their past performance will be the right way to do that. If the team member could not achieve their goals or could not do their job justice, their departure won’t affect you or your team much. So, you shouldn’t be making any effort to retain them. On the other hand, if the team member was doing a good job, you should go for putting an extra effort into retaining them.

If you are going to try to retain that team member, try understanding their motivations behind making this decision

After assessing the performance, if you believe that you should retain the team member, you should aim to understand the motivations of that team member behind deciding to leave. You can start by understanding what was lacking in their job and what was in their position that they were not happy about. E.g., understanding that they may be looking for more responsibility, more recognition, more autonomy, etc. Or maybe they just got a better opportunity outside.

Try offering what can meet the expectations of that team member

Open the table for negotiation and let the team member tell you what exactly they do seek. Once you know what was lacking in their job and what was there that they didn’t like, you can offer to make changes that can meet their expectations. For example, if you understood that they were looking for more responsibility, more recognition, or lesser micromanagement, you can offer them providing the same if they decide to stay. If they are a vital team member who is valuable in terms of talent, you can even offer them a raise or promotion or some extra flexibility in their work.

Conclude the process with the idea of whether the employee is leaving or not

Once you are done making offers to retain the departing employee, make sure to conclude the retention process with a clear yes or no. It is necessary as a team member’s departure will bring many tasks for you as a manager. And, if you are stuck in figuring out if they’ll stay or not, you’ll be unnecessarily wasting a lot of your valuable time and resources. Be clear in your offers and expect the team member to be clear about if they accept those offers or not. There should be a clear YES or NO. If they accept the offer and are ready to stay, well and good. But, if they don’t and they choose to stick to their decision of leaving, the next section will tell you what steps you should follow in this case.

8 steps for managers to take when they are sure about the departure

1. Acknowledge the team member’s decision

When someone is sure that they will leave the team, it can be challenging to manage the fallout. Managers need to acknowledge the team members’ decisions and do their best to provide them with as much support as possible. They must cope with the fact that this departure will take place and should prepare themselves to take the necessary steps forward. Some managers make the mistake of becoming bitter if the team member leaves the company. This essentially happens as managers take the departure personally. This makes the employee’s exit and transition more difficult as the relations are strained during this critical time of change. The exiting employee finds it hard to hand over and transition gracefully in such an environment. Moreover, it impacts the overall team environment and morale.

2. Finding a replacement before the team member actually leaves

Once it is sure that a team member will be quitting the job, for the next steps, managers should try to find a replacement for the departing team member. They should ensure that this replacement can come before the team member leaves. You may take the help of the HR department for this. You may find the replacement in many ways, including:
  • Hiring an outside candidate suitable for the role
  • Promoting a comparatively junior team member who has the potential to take over the role
  • Allowing someone else who has an interest in this role within the organization even though from a different team
  • Breaking the role and its responsibilities of it into small manageable chunks and delegating it to other members of the team

3. Discuss the departure with the team and internal stakeholders

As a manager, you should give the information about this departure to your team and the internal stakeholders you believe will be affected by the departure. It would help if you also were sure to inform your higher-ups for records. It is necessary to ensure that the team and these internal stakeholders prepare themselves to deal with the gap it will create and minimize the disruptions as much as possible. During this discussion, you should also ensure that your remaining employees and co-workers are not severely affected by this departure.

4. Discuss the departure with external stakeholders and communicate transition plans

When a manager is sure about an employee’s departure, it is essential to discuss the situation with external stakeholders (clients, vendors, partners, etc.) and discuss transition plans. You should send them an official communication regarding the departure. That communication should convey the changes that will come shortly due to the exit. Also, the communication should talk about the transition plan and the steps you are taking to minimize any adverse impact on the work to build confidence. Doing so can ensure that all parties are on the same page and that there are no surprises down the road. It will help minimize potential conflicts or misunderstandings and result in a smoother transition for all concerned.

5. Handle any unfinished business

When a team member leaves the company, handling any unfinished business as gracefully as possible is crucial. It includes any unfinished pieces of work, documenting work they have done, preparing knowledge transfer sessions and documents, etc. It is also essential to ensure that they return all office supplies and equipment. You should also get them the pay off all outstanding debts. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that the departure is as smooth as possible for both the employee and the company.

6. Facilitate an effective handover for a smooth transition

When a team member leaves your team, there are a few things you, as the manager, need to keep in mind to facilitate an effective handover. First and foremost, make sure you have a clear and concise plan for the handover. It should include information about who will be the replacement of the departing employee during the transition period. Secondly, be sure to communicate your expectations and goals for the role of the departing employee effectively and honestly to the replacement. Take the help of the departing employee to prepare the replacement to take over the role and its responsibilities. Finally, make sure you provide ample resources and support to the replacing candidate to help them with their transition when a team member leaves.

7. Ensure a good farewell

When a team member leaves, there are a few things that you should do to ensure a good farewell. These include:
  • Be sure to show gratitude and thank them for their contributions to the team. Let them know that you appreciate everything that they’ve done
  • Please provide them with any relevant information or guidance that they may need during their leave
  • Thank them for their time with your team, and let them know that you’ll keep in touch
  • Make sure to send them off with a positive attitude and wish them all the best for the future

8. A Good Exit Conversation

When a team member leaves, a manager can understand their intentions and the team dynamics from an internal point of view through an exit interview or conversation. These conversations are critical to closing the relationship in a mutually respectful and satisfactory manner. Moreover, they help you understand the cause of discontent that might hurt your team.

9. Move on

In the end, managers need to understand that no matter how effectively they handle their team, there will be departures, and there isn’t much they can do about it. After being sure about the departure and following all the steps listed above, moving on from the departure is essential. Assure yourself that you did your best as a manager and push yourself ahead from the employee’s departure. Look ahead and aim to be even more effective as a manager in the future.


Managers must be prepared for the possibility of employees leaving the company. It can be challenging and destructive when a key team member leaves. But sticking to it can be even more destructive, and it is better to accept it and move on. By following these simple steps listed above, managers can help minimize the adverse effects of a departure on the business.

Ensure a smooth farewell for your member by downloading the exit conversation toolkit

Exit conversations can be daunting. But we have got you covered with a step by step guide on how to do it right

What do you say when a team member leaves?

The best course of action to take when a team member leaves is to wish them farewell and take lessons from their journey with the team. You can bring out the best memories and positive experiences built together to conclude the liaison on a healthy note.

How do you announce a team member leaving?

Announcing the exit of a team member can be tricky, but it’s best to address it directly. Be forthright about the decision and inform the rest of the team about it. Moreover, as the team is undergoing a shuffle, plan the next set of action and distribution of responsibilities as well with the remaining team members. Ensure that they do not feel shocked and do not leave space for miscommunication.

How do you say goodbye to old team members?

Wishing farewell when an old team member leaves is an emotional moment for the team manager. As they move on to the next stage of their journey, send them with your best wishes and support them through the decision as well while being understanding of their circumstances.

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Author: Deeksha Sharma

Deeksha, with a solid educational background in human resources, bridges the gap between your goals and you with valuable insights and strategies within leadership development. Her unique perspectives, powered by voracious reading, lead to thoughtful pieces that tie conventional know-how and innovative approaches together to enable success for management professionals.

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