I could use some advice on a matter I have these days.

I am a Manager for an oil-company who runs the Operations department.
As the subjects says, now one of my key employees, or actually my most important player, wants to quit to go back to school again.

The problem is that he feels he is in a job that does not suit him and that he is lacking motivation to keep going. As the marked is today there are no other jobs available for him either.

The position he fills required a lot of knowledge and is not a position that is easy to replace. In addition to this he has one of the highest capacities I have seen and is capable of doing multiple jobs at once. And he does!

Loosing him would cause huge problems for the department, regardless of it is to an internal position or for studies. Also it would case problems for other departments where he has various tasks to handle. He is the ultimate "doer" and I think it would require several hirings to replace what he does.

So I need him to to exactly what he does and he is willing to quit his job to NOT do his job. The mention of a raise was rejected.
My manager does not allow any big rearranging these days as the oil marked is so I am getting quite desperate.

Anyone experienced something like this?
I don't want to give up just yet. He was also the only one in our office who got the "outstanding" review on the yearly appraisal. So I guess I will get some heat from my Manager if I cannot talk him out of quitting.


timrutter's picture

It's a big loss to you, but my gut feeling is that you need to let him go and leave the door open to him to return.

At least you have someplanning and handover time that you can use productively, reach out to your bench and get your boss on board with any changes you want or need to make.


ShiftingResults's picture

I am not sure you have provided enough information about why he feels the job does not suit him.  What about the job is not suiting him?  If he could change anything in the position, what would he change?  Would it be the environment?  The tasks? The projects? 

There is one sentence about how he feels in this seven paragraph story, yet you want him to stay?  Would you not agree if you were in this same position you would want your boss to be talking about all the things that you "needed" in order to get you to stay?  I am certain that you are a caring manager and you see the value in him but it seems that you are making this all about your loss instead of what he wants.  Give him the "magic wand" and see if he can create what he wants then weigh the possibilities.

As a top producer, I left a company once because I simply didn't feel appreciated.  While that may feel trivial and immature, it can be the basis for many failed relationships in business.  Later, I actually became close friends with that boss and the company acknowledged their weakness and installed an employee recognition program.  If you feel that you have really asked the deeper questions with your employee  and feel that you really understand why  the job doesn't suit him, then you need to let him go and look forward with hope in finding the right person especially in the oil business as talent is so plentiful even in a highly specialized field.


delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
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If one of my employees wants to move on and even if they are the "best ever", I would support them and not try and keep them.  You know that even if they stay they will not be happy,doesn't sound like anything good would come of it in the long term. 

From your description it doesn't appear they are leveraging this for a promotion or raise.  Sometimes employees realize there is a different path.  Your best option is to keep good communication with the employee and start planning for their exit. 

The employee is leaving....

pucciot's picture
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People matter. You've gotta love this guy. He has done well for you and your organization.
Now it is time to wish him the best things in this world, for him and his family.

I know your feeling, I have a superstar in my org and it would be a tremendous loss if she were to leave. She does everything.
But, as I listened to MT I realized that _she_ is wonderful, but her position in the organization is just a position.

If she goes, there will be a loss of productivity for a while, and then I get to train a new person.
I will have stress and greater responsibility to fill the position and make up the work etc ... and that is why I get paid more to be a manger.
That is _my_ value to the organization.

As a manager, it is time for you to do what is best for the organization and start to mange the transition and the change.

Ask this person to write a procedures manual. Start to delegate his tasks to others on your staff.
Spread it around a bit and ask this superstar to teach others before he is gone.

You really need to realize that at anytime one of your employees could be struck and out of work for any reason.

You have a wonderful opportunity here. A superstar employee wants to leave and is willing to help you with the transition.
That doesn't happen much. (Would you rather he leave in a huff or quit unexpectedly)

Listen, if you were the one who hired this person then _you have much to be proud of_ . You hired well, delegated responsibility, grew the employee and grew the position. ** Now you need to do another important managerial thing, succession and transition. ***

Be brave, things will be OK ! Work hard for your organization and love your brother.

Good Luck


Jim Clark's picture
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My only advice would be for the future, whether your top performer leaves or stays, is succession planning.  In my organization we have a key person who at a minimum would cause our company 1 - 3 years of negative impact if they left.  I've asked my boss about succession planning for this person.  It's falling on deaf ears.  It's very frustrating.  

We bend over backwards to ensure this person is 'happy' and work hard at not upsetting his world for fear he might leave.  We've even put up with others on his team taking advantage of this situation, bending rules and practices because we didn't want to them to leave and cause a burden for the key person.  How messed up is that?

To me, if there's a succession plan or something in place where the company is protected to a large degree if a large amount of knowledge exits the organization, the problem of a key player leaving is minimized.


brianr5's picture

It's tough, but if you cannot realistically address the reasons a great performer wants to leave, you have to support them and let them leave.  Sometimes you can stall them leaving with money, promotion... but if you can't address the underlying reason you're just postponing the inevitable.  As everyone has said it is good they will help with the transition.  

Keep things as positive as you have and try to pave the way for them to come back later if it makes sense (I've had several top performers return years later).  Maybe he knows someone who could fill his role?

In the future developing your bench and succesion planning will help mitigate things somewhat, but it is still tough.