What to do when a key member of staff resigns

Attorney- General Professor Githu Muigai. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Attorney- General Professor Githu Muigai. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The resignation of Attorney- General Professor Githu Muigai recently caused abuzz in the mainstream and social media.

The announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta led most Kenyans to start guessing on the reasons that may have led to the AG to throw in the towel while others started debating whether Justice Paul Kihara Kariuki, the current president of the Court of Appeal, who Mr Kenyatta has nominated for the position, will fit in his shoes.

Assuming you are in the president’s shoes and your key employee hands in resignation, what would you do?

Losing a key member of your team can be a daunting task. When a key employee exits suddenly, a company or organisation can be thrown into a state of confusion and disarray because it’s tougher to find the right replacement immediately.

Having worked as a CEO for over seven years, I know how disorienting a key staff leaving can be. You even begin to question your leadership and mentorship abilities.

However, organisations should take the exit of a key staff as an opportunity to learn and better the department.

That said, I suggest these six practical ways an organisation can efficiently use to handle losing a key staff and ensure that the company remains productive long after the exit.

A company should first look at the HR policies regarding employee’s resignation. When your key staff tenders their resignation, you must legally understand the premise laid out in the company policy regarding resignation. For instance, numerous HR policies ask for a months’ notice. But assume the employee disregarded this clause, what do you then do?

Chances are they knew they were violating the code, but still went ahead to give an impromptu exit.

The best way to deal with this is to affirm your authority by letting them know that you do not wish to have a staff that violates the organisational policy no matter their value to the company.

Next, find out the reasons for their resignation by having a sit down with them to find out what led them to make the decision and what could have been done differently.

Keep your emotions in check. As a CEO, I know how irksome the resignation of best staff can be. One might be tempted to feel angry at them and focus on their resignation rather than their input during their tenure.

During the discussion, try to give a counter-offer and remain diplomatic. The decision to give them a counter-offer can only be made after you have evaluated their reasons for resigning.

It is observed that by the time your key staff decided to leave, he or she has evaluated the pros and cons of their decision. If after the counter-offer they still insist on leaving, don’t keep forcing it down their throat. Accept and respect their decision and wish them well.

Please bear in mind that due to this staff’s immense value addition; their position cannot be left vacant very long. Why? The ripple effect of their resignation will begin to be felt in the productivity levels in your company.

It is time to vet who among the rest of your staff should be promoted to that position and determine the amount of time to probe them in order to establish whether they are a good fit.

Sometimes based on the weightiness of the role, you might need to promote two members of your staff. In the event you do not find a qualified results-driven staff to fill the position, begin to outsource.

As a CEO and manager, I have learnt that I should always foresee impediments such as resignations. You should never be caught unawares. If you are sensitive to your staff’s performance and behaviour you will notice when one of your staff is getting too comfortable or fed up with their job.

As a leader be open to the truth that some of your best staff will resign therefore always have a plan should the worst happen.

Finally try to include your team in your re-organising plan. Just because you are a manager and CEO doesn’t mean you have to make all the decisions alone.

While you are the deciding factor at the end of the day, include in your team the planning process with regards to how the now vacant position will be filled and incorporate their ideas and suggestions.

I have learnt that when a key staff resigns, the last thing you want to do is refuse to involve your team in the decisions you make. Why? They will start to feel undervalued and surprisingly more resignations might follow.

Whereas you may use very little of their input, the fact that you consulted them will make them feel valued and this will significantly reduce the risk of a high turnover.