… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

The five stages of grief: When a top performer resigns

You return to the office after a relaxing lunch, you’re in a good mood and well caffeinated. And then you see it. A string of emails, or your voicemail light blinking, or maybe some papers upside down on your chair. And you just know this isn’t something good. It turns out that one of the company’s top performers has submitted their two week notice. Here’s how you may transition through the shock:

Stage 1: Denial – What? They can’t be serious! They love it here! No, this can’t be right. Let me just call the supervisor and find out what really is going on.

Stage 2: Anger – They are resigning? What the hell? How can they do this to us? This is our busiest time of the year and they go and leave us high and dry with only two weeks notice? Who do they think they are?

Stage 3: Bargaining – Counter offer! That’s right, let’s counter offer. There has to be something we can offer them to get them to stay. How hard would it be to get them a company car?

Stage 4: Depression – They’re moving? To Indiana? What do you mean they already sold their house? How did they manage that in this housing market? What are we going to do? We’ll never find another employee as good as they were!

Stage 5: Acceptance – Oh well, that’s life. Let me set up an exit interview and submit all the paperwork. I’ll get started on filling their position right away. Oh, that reminds me. There is this top class employee at the Omaha office that expressed interest in moving to our location a few weeks back. Let me go see if she’s still interested.

Personally, I get sad when we lose our best people and I always wish that the company could have done something more to keep them. Sometimes they could have, sometimes not. I guess the moral of the story is to treat your best people like they deserve but always have succession planning in the back of your mind. Life happens and you have to learn to roll with it. That, and have a boss who doesn’t mind you coming into their office to whine every now and then.

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6 Responses | Add your Own

  • 1 HR Wench :

    For me it was always like this:

    Stage 1: Who?
    Stage 2: Yeah, yeah, yeah just let me know what day is the actual last day.
    Stage 3: What do you want? I’m busy reading blogs.
    Stage 4: Oh right, you’re the guy that’s leaving.
    Stage 5: NEXT!

  • 2 HR Minion :

    Wench – Don’t make me laugh so hard! My co-workers think I’m strange enough without the random bursts of laughter coming from my office.

  • 3 Chris :

    When I left my boss didn’t speak to me until the exit interview … then he said:
    “Well I guess you really are leaving then.”
    No, no – I was all a joke. Of course I’m leaving!

  • 4 HR Minion :

    Chris – you had a bad manager, no cookie for them. It’s probably for the best that you left that job.

  • 5 Breanne :

    HR Wench, you crack me up!!!!

    It’s even worse when a top performer who is your close friend resigns. Isn’t there a feeling of being left behind? If the top performer is also someone everyone likes, then the flood gates open and other top performers go with them.

    After the 5 stages of grief, damage control has to kick in. What’s going on in this team? what is the team culture? How can we assess their level of satisfaction? You can’t ignore when a top performer leaves.

  • 6 HR Minion :

    I agree Breanne, I once had 5 tech people leave within 6 months of each other. That’s a fairly obvious sign that something is not right on that team. You need to find out what is wrong before dumping new people in as well.