September 14, 2023 – So, your high performer just resigned. You’re feeling frustrated and let down. That doesn’t make you a bad leader. It makes you human. In fact, if you’re taking it personally, it’s most likely because you exerted significant effort into mentoring and helping this employee grow. “While these feelings are perfectly natural, how you react to this resignation could have an unintentional and longer-term effect,” said Sanford Rose Associates – Newman Group Search in a new report. “Your reaction to the news could prevent a future rehire of your high performer.”
You may be thinking, “Why would you want to rehire someone who left your team?” Most likely you worked hard to create an environment in which they could thrive, and they left anyway. “There are many reasons why a happy employee chooses to leave,” said the report. “In fact, it’s become normal for employees to get an itch to try something new and see how other companies operate.”
With record-breaking low unemployment in the insurance sector (one percent average for most of 2022), your high performers are regularly and aggressively pursued by other employers and recruiters with creative pitches and big promises. “Diving into a new opportunity doesn’t mean your alumni candidate is a perpetual flight risk should you rehire them later,” said Sanford Rose Associates – Newman Group Search. “What it does mean is that if they come back to you (boomerang) they’ll bring valuable new skills, a broader perspective, and an increased knowledge base, most likely from a successful competing firm. They have now become more valuable to you and your team.”
Three Key Steps
If you’ve had an open and honest conversation about the potential to help them find fulfillment on your team rather than leaving, and the end result is still a resignation, here are some steps the search firm says you can take to help ensure they turn to you when they’re ready to make their next move:
1) Make it immediately clear that you respect their decision. “Their success and happiness are a priority,” said Sanford Rose Associates – Newman Group Search. “And more importantly, be very direct about your hope to work together again in the future. If they jump ship for an opportunity that happens to be a dud, and immediately realize they made a mistake, and know their resignation didn’t burn bridges makes it much more likely that you’ll be their first call.”
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2) Make their departure stress free. It’s extremely important to hire or promote as quickly as possible to begin to relieve them of their duties; it’s arguably more important to communicate to everyone on your team about the separation in a positive and respectful way. “It’s common for teammates to feel awkward and to treat an employee differently after a resignation,” said the report. “Set the tone and lead by example. This may also encourage other employees to communicate with you openly about the needs that are not being met or their own interest in leaving.”
3) Regular follow up! Maintaining communication with the person who left after the fact is key. “Most likely, you genuinely want to know how things unfold for someone you mentored… don’t be afraid to ask!” said Sanford Rose Associates – Newman Group Search. “Check in after they’ve had a few weeks on the new job. Ask how their onboarding is going, and if their new team feels like a good fit. When you come across an article or a new tool that could be helpful to them, don’t be stingy – send it their way! This can be a meaningful reminder that you’re dedicated to mentoring and supporting their growth and success outside of your organization.”
“There’s no guarantee of a return in the old cliche about setting someone free, but taking these small steps can help keep that door open and create space for the possibility!” said the report.
Building Innovative Teams
The Newman Group is the national commercial risk and insurance search division for Sanford Rose Associates. Sanford Rose Associates has more than 165 offices worldwide and has been recognized for more than a decade as one of North America’s Top 10 Search Firms by Hunt Scanlon Media. The Newman Group, based in Murray, UT, works with leaders in the insurance industry to help them build senior leadership teams.
Peg Newman is the founder and president of Sanford Rose Associates – Newman Group. For more than 25 years, she and her team have been recruiting for a wide variety of leading companies for business operations, industry-specific positions, and key leadership roles in insurance, banking, commercial lending, finance and accounting, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and med device, construction and engineering, oil and gas, supply chain, etc.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media