graphic of business contract being cut in half

Think about every person on your team. Who do you predict is the next to leave? What is informing your thinking?

Who do you want to be the next to leave? Who do you want to never leave?

What are you doing about it?

Everyone will leave their position at some time. As leaders, it behooves us to know when people are leaving and that the transition occurs on positive terms. Even for low performers that we move on.

The four types of transitions from organizations:

  1. Positive when everyone knows the terms of the exit
  2. Negative short fused due to poor performance or a negative event
  3. Negative long term due to poor performance
  4. The surprise departure, not predicted or expected

Positive departures are recognized many times with celebrations, lunches, or retirement dinners. The organization had time to plan the transition, unload responsibilities, and feel a degree of smoothness with the change. They create good feelings, continuity, and positive alumni.

Negative short fused departures are often tumultuous. Though not always negative. I am sure you felt joy and relief when that negative influence left the team. After the departure many leaders reflect on what took them so long to make the decision.

Negative long-term departures can be an energy depleting marathon. The longevity of the departure may result from the inability to fire someone. Government positions have this problem. Bosses reluctant to move someone along are also typical causes. These cases create performance plans, accountability plans, HR reviews, and lots of ongoing supervision. All to pressure the individual to self-select or build an airtight case for a firing.

The worst departures; surprises by high performers.  When faced with one of these cases, you ask yourself; ‘how did I not know that was going to happen?’  That is the crux of this article.

How can you ensure you are aware of every individual’s plan and eliminate this category entirely from your experience?

Know your people and how their current position fits into their long-term career plan.

The teammates on your team do not work for you. They are on a career path that is in their head and you are only along for part of the journey. Help them get what they need and want in their time with you.

Think about yourself in your current position. How long do you intend to be there and what are the milestones that will signal it’s time to exit?

The folks you are leading have the same mindset. “Once I meet these qualifications or milestones, I will be moving on to what is next.”

What actions do you need to start to understand what role you are playing in their career progression?  Simple, ask and make it a regular part of your interactions.

Most leaders surprised by departures; created the conditions to be shocked.