Published on 05/04/2022
The departure of an employee is a key moment in the life of a company. Whatever the reason – voluntary departure, retirement, contractual termination or dismissal – management communication around this event must be conducted intelligently in order to defuse any tensions that may arise.
How to communicate, in what way and by what means? Discover in this article the good practices of the communicating manager related to the departure of an employee.
#1 – The right stance for successful communication
No to improvisation
The announcement of a departure cannot be improvised, but quite the opposite. After receiving the news, do not talk about it in a haphazard way to anyone you meet. In this sense, ask the employee concerned to keep this decision to themselves so that you have time to prepare your internal communication.
Nevertheless, act quickly. By delaying the official announcement, you run the risk of rumours circulating. You also slow down the organisation of the next steps.
Based on the causes of the departure, try to understand what happened and prepare answers to the questions you will be asked:
- Why do they want to leave?
- Was there any attempt to hold them back?
- What are the company’s criticisms?
- Are they going to a competitor?
- What were the reasons for their dismissal?
- Why wasn’t their contract renewed?
Answer these questions honestly and frankly and prepare a speech to answer everyone’s questions. This will provide consistency and stability to your teams and to your management. If your words change as you interact, you risk creating confusion and distrust within the company.
Transparency and professionalism: your best weapons
In your exchanges, adopt a reassuring posture that will reinforce your position as a manager or leader.
- Be transparent: your employees need this to trust you completely. The person leaving will also appreciate this attitude.
- Remain neutral: you can express your emotions within reason, without dramatising. Do not let your bitterness or anger show through your words. It is important to be neutral in the words used so as not to leave room for misinterpretation by one of the employees.
- Be objective: try to understand the reasons for the decision and do not make it personal.
#2 – How to communicate : the right channels, the tools that work
Step 1 : Oral communication with the teams concerned
To simply reassure, you can gather the employees directly affected by the departure and tell them the news. Learning that a colleague you work with every day is going to leave in a general email is not very pleasant and can generate resentment. The role of a manager is to take into account the management of employees’ emotions.
Step 2 : an email to announce the news
You can then send an email to all the staff in your company. Although a little cold and impersonal, this communication tool allows you to reach everyone at the same time, quickly. In your message, announce the news in a neutral way and explain the reason for the departure. Finish by reassuring your employees: they might think that the company is having financial or management difficulties.
Step 3 : a post to say goodbye
Once the news has been announced, you can use a phygital internal communication solution such as Steeple to say goodbye to your employee in the right way. Create a post in which you wish them all the best for the future, for example.
Their colleagues can in turn leave messages in comments. And why not propose a survey to organise a farewell party: date, activity, etc.
#3 – Manager or leader : what is your role ?
You are the guarantor of good communication
As a manager or leader, you need to ensure that information about this departure is passed on to all levels of communication.
- At the bottom level: escalate the problems that led to the departure to the next management level.
- At the top level: offer clear and unambiguous answers to your teams to avoid questioning or even the appearance of mistrust.
- At the cross-functional level: communicate with other managers on the relevance of the relational practices implemented in the company, especially if the employee turnover is high.
Listen to the departing employee and to others
Management requires active listening and empathy. Be open to requests from the employee you are losing. Perhaps they want to leave the company quietly or remain evasive about their reasons for leaving.
At the same time, welcome the concerns and emotions of your team members. They ask themselves 1001 questions:
- Will you hire a replacement?
- Will the work be divided among those who remain?
- Will the teams be reshuffled?
Motivate and unite your team
Finally, during this type of destabilising episode, your role as manager is to ensure that the team remains motivated and united. To do this, you can:
- Encourage emotional verbalisation in order to defuse tensions.
- Clarify the situation as much as possible by answering all questions.
- Develop an action plan in a collaborative way to strengthen cohesion.
- Set realistic goals for the new situation.
- Remind them of your support and confidence in them to bounce back.
#4 – Prepare to replace your employee
Announce what happens next
Very quickly, employees will want to know if their colleague is going to be replaced. By what type of profile? How long will it take?, etc. It is essential for their well-being that you approach the Human Resources department quickly to get firm answers to their questions. Don’t make them wait too long. Uncertainty is a source of stress and disengagement.
Encourage internal promotions
What if one of your employees wants to take over the vacant position? Controlling your company’s internal communication also means knowing the aspirations of each individual.
While some feel comfortable expressing their desires, others have a more reserved temperament.
Take the time to encourage internal candidates to come forward. Send an email to all of the company’s employees to let them know that the position is open to everyone, and that anyone can apply if they wish.
Select the candidate
Establishing the right candidate profile, detailing the tasks of the position, creating the job offer, sorting the applications received, preparing the right questions for the interview, meeting the candidates individually, etc. The recruitment process can be long.
What about getting your staff to contribute ? This is a great way to give weight to their opinions and to see if the feeling is there. If the personality of the candidate appeals to one of the employees, then there is a greater chance that the teamwork will go well.
Organise a handover phase for greater efficiency
If you are recruiting a new employee, whether internally or externally, try and do it quickly. The notice period will be an opportunity for the departing employee to hand over to a replacement. Proceeding in this way makes it easier for the new recruit to integrate. It is also an excellent way to avoid losing productivity.
Seeing an employee leave is rarely an easy thing. A manager’s speech following the departure of an employee only helps to facilitate the process and offers an opportunity to strengthen the links within the team and between the company’s various departments. If you are a manager, see this event as an opportunity to improve your management skills.
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