What to do when you face losing an A-Player employee (Part 1)

What to do when you face losing an A-Player employee (Part 1)

Written by Glenn Beauchamp Managing Director | Principal IT/ICT Executive Recruiter


When a good employee leaves, it’s never easy. When that employee is one of your star “A-Player” employees it’s hurts even more. There are a number of things you should do during, after, and in the future to minimise the impact. Not say you will never lose key employees, but there are a couple of particular things you can do to ensure you maximise their tenure with the business, and perhaps enjoy the “boomerang effect” – ie. they come back in the future with additional skills and experience of value!.

As a manager, you probably already know one of your key KPI’s should be the recruitment, development and retention of A-players. And more importantly teams of them.

Steve Jobs is often quoted as saying ” A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

This is a very difficult goal to achieve and always on manager BHAG lists. Finding great employees is difficult, adding to this is the significant investment in training mentoring and coaching in your business models and IP. When they pack up their cardboard box of personal effects and walk out the door, so does a key piece of your business.

Remember it’s people, in particular A-players, that make up the core DNA of your business, not the products or services you provide.

In part one of this series, here is one of several things you can do when this situation occurs:

1. What’s your level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

Situations like these always test your (EQ). Take deep breaths and try to keep in a neutral head space! Actively listen what is actually said, not what you think you are hearing. Ask simple, open ended questions for clarification – don’t attack, accuse, justify, overreact etc. Make notes that you can then reflect on later in the day. Don’t make any key decisions, agree only to set another time to meet later in the day or the next day to discuss things further.

Try and have another person in the meeting: If it’s at all possible, try to have another manager in the meeting room with you. They don’t and (ideally) need to do anything, just be there to listen and perhaps take notes. They are “Switzerland” and neutrally supporting you both. The conversation is between you and your A-player employee. This is key takeaway.

Remember there is a saying that employees leave managers not companies. Thismay be the case, however here is an opportunity for you to really shine. How you behave in this situation could mean the difference between your A-Player staying and working another day, or walking out that day without a handover, and creating a host of other HR challenges for the business.

The key follow up meeting with your A-Player: When you have cleared your head of distractions, have your thoughts gathered, and the emotion has dissipated from the situation, you can then ask all your “Why, How, When, How, Where etc questions?” It’s very important you continue to show respect, integrity and leadership.

Dealing with the situation this way will ensure you don’t do things like:

· counter offer with a ridiculous salary increase, employment conditions and other benefits;

· say and do things you regret in the future – remember your other employees are always watching you;

· negatively comment and challenge the employee, their new job, new employer etc.

How’s your emotional intelligence? How do you think you would handle a situation like this?

In the next parts of this series of “What to do when you face losing an A-Player employee” we’ll discuss how you may be able to turn the employee around, communicating to your current employees, making sure you leave the door open the right way (without being walked over) and succession planning. In addition, we’ll provide a few other tips and advice.

For more information on Recruiting, Retaining and Retraining A-Player employees, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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