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I am a new manager of a newly formed PMO in a non-IT industry. A long-time employee (8 years) whom I inherited has announced that she is leaving to take a position in another state.

This employee has strong connections within my group and the company. She was the right hand of the VP before being assigned to me. I am already beginning to feel ripples of concern within my team.

My questions:

- How can I best guide my team through this transition?
- What should I be learning from the departing employee to make me a better manager?

Love the podcast and the forums! (First post but I have been lurking for some time.)

Thanks in advance!

John

kenlukas's picture

Hi John,

I'm currently going through this now with my most senior person leaving the company after 12 years. My team was very concerned; "What will we do without him here" or "He's the only guy who knows how that works".

I listened to my teams concerns in their 1 on 1's and acknowledged their fears. "Yes, we rely on his tribal knowledge to get us out of tight spots. His knowledge is hard to replace."

And then proceeded to paint a more positive picture for them. "But this is a great opportunity for you to grow. His leaving does not mean the pie gets smaller, it means there is more pie to go around. Things will not always go smoothly but in the end you'll be much stronger professionally."

I reiterated that we would hit speedbumps that weren't there before and we'd learn how to avoid them in the future.

That's the broad overview.

As for what you can learn, I asked my employee if I played a role in his decision to leave and to give me feedback about my weaknesses. He was very open to it and I received good feedback from him (some negative and some positive).

Hope it helps.

-Ken

jmdaviswa's picture

Thanks Ken!

Good advice. I will be talking this through with my other reports in their O3's this week.

I have asked the departing employee for feedback. She says that she is not leaving because of any issues with her new role; but I don't feel that she is being completely open with me.

Her transition from being at the right hand of the VP to being part of my team and several layers down the org chart has been difficult for her and I cannot help but think that it was a large contributor to her decision to leave.

John

Mark's picture

John-

I'm sorry this has taken me so long. I regret my absence.

What Ken said is damn good. When folks worry, AGREE. Validate their feelings of fear. If you were to have argued, that would entrench the emotion.

DO NOT BUY INTO THE FEAR. Things will turn out fine, as they always do. And you NOT acting fearful will help them gain respect for your calm amid the storm.

Again, my apologies.

Mark

jmdaviswa's picture

Thanks Mark. Things did indeed turn out fine. It has been 4 weeks and we have handled everything that came along without problems. It has meant some additional strain on other team members.

We have re-defined the position and interviewed several replacement candidates. Our top candidate has accepted our offer and will be joining us in April.

Thanks again.

John