When someone leaves your team, your organization, your whatever – it’s not business, it’s personal – there said it.
But not for the reason that you think.
If you’ve ever had this happen to you, you know the feeling inside that you can’t shake for the next two weeks and for all the times thereafter. I can name all the people that have left while they were on my team. I can tell you exactly how they each did it and what went through at my mind the instant they approached me, the instant in which they told me and the many, many, many instants thereafter.
It starts like this – “Greg do you have a sec?”.
And with that, I know it’s coming, because that’s the awkward moment where all you can do is sit back and wait for it to happen. Now at this point in time your stomach starts twisting and you start thinking about what to say, knees get a little wonky and you’re glad you’re sitting down for this. And you are always sitting down, no one tells you they are leaving while they are buying you a burger on a sunny day at the best joint in town.
And the speech is always rehearsed, at least it starts off rehearsed and then it veers off into some other world. Which is expected, been there done that. But on the other side, you’re really not listening, you might ask a question or two, but really you’re pulling it from your Leadership 101 handbook of good questions to ask when people leave. It’s not uncommon for me to have to have a follow-up meeting with the person leaving to ask them again why they’re leaving because I spaced out in the initial conversation.
And lastly, they give you the date, up until this point it was a conversation, but now the nail has hit and it’s hit home. The party is over and you’re the last one to leave.
It’s bitter sweet when someone leaves, they are moving on to a new challenge, trying something new, taking a leap and you feel really good for them, great for them because they’re doing that and maybe you had a small part in that. And even the ones that you might not have gotten along with that well, well those can be even tougher because you feel like you didn’t give your all, you couldn’t solve their issues and it just didn’t come together.
Regardless of the why, whenever someone leaves, it’s definitely a time for reflection – what’s worked, what is working, what is not working, where do I need to focus more, etc? Lots of questions focussed around I and me – and that’s what makes it personal. That’s what makes it worth something because whether it’s yours, your teams or your company’s next steps, that leaving has put in motion a change that you were not seeing before, most likely lead by you.