I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together

Carol Burnett and Tim Conway

How do you respond when someone leaves your team?

Let’s assume this was a person you thoroughly enjoyed having on your team. You’re going to miss them.

Do you wish them well and celebrate your time together? Do you try anything and everything to get them to stay? Is your response different based on whether they are moving to another area within your company, or leaving the company altogether?

In the iconic TV show, “The Carol Burnett Show”, every episode ended with Carol singing, “I’m so glad we had this time together…”

To me, that is the best possible response.

I’ve done my fair share of moving on, and experienced a wide variety of responses when having that initial conversation with my boss. Some of these responses include:

  1. “I’m jealous.”
  2. “Two weeks? I’m disappointed. I would have expected at least 6 months notice from you.”
  3. “Congratulations. Let me know how I can help you in your new role.”
  4. “If I can get you a raise, would you stay?”
  5. “I’ll only let you leave if you let us take you out for dinner and celebrate the time you’ve been here.”

It’s so easy to take it personally when someone leaves our team. Sometimes this is built into the company culture. Retaining employees is often used as a measure of a manager’s success. I’ve never subscribed to this philosophy.

Sure, if you are experiencing mass exodus of your star players, you should be doing some introspection. That’s not what I am talking about here. I am referring to those people who are leaving for new opportunities, new challenges, or new geographic locations that address their individual needs and career path.

My goal as a manager has always been to provide as many opportunities for growth as possible, with the full realization that someday the individual may outgrow the opportunities available on that team. To me, there is nothing as satisfying as watching those I’ve mentored outgrow the place where we started. I love following the careers of people on LinkedIn as they continue in their journey.

Next time someone turns in their notice, throw a party. Celebrate. Be thankful for the time you had together. Then get to work helping someone new step up to the challenge of filling the vacancy. Everybody wins.