No one wants to be rejected. When it happens, we take it personally, going through stages of hurt, anger and resolution. When employees leave your firm, you may well travel the same path. However, employees typically make a decision to “fly the nest” only after careful deliberation. Therefore, these soon-to-be ex-employees should not be treated as defectors or traitors, but rather as potential future candidates. When I interview candidates, one of the first things I do is review their professional history with them. Often they tell me that they would like to return to a past employer, but their managers were so angry when they resigned, that they are afraid of being rejected. They would rather work for a different company than be rebuffed. Don’t overlook past employees who realize that sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side! In this tight labor market, no company can afford to miss out on a great employee. Try to remember the reasons you didn’t want your employees to leave. Treat their resignations with dignity. Do not insult the decision-making processes that lead them to these difficult choices. Instead, go through a brief but critical process of letting go:
1. Tell them that you respect their decision to leave.
2. Make sure they know if they change their mind, you would be happy for them to stay.
3. If you would welcome them back in the future, tell them.
Just as they caution not to burn your bridges as an employee, neither should you do so as an employer.
Carol Metzner is President of The MetznerGroup, LLC, a professional search firm specializing in the search and recruitment of engineering professionals nationwide. To contact Carol directly, call 301-293-4206, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: www.themetznergroup.com.