What do you do if two of your key people resign on the same week?
For an office with only seven people, it can be disaster.
Let me tell you, there is no worse feeling than getting a resignation letter from a valued employee of the company.
To be honest, it fills you with dread and self-doubt.
Like any failed relationship when a guy tells you that he’s leaving, and “it’s not you, it’s me,” you immediately jump into the conclusion that when a good employee leaves, it’s because it’s you.
Anyway, put yourself in their shoes, will you leave a company unless the ship is sinking? If the company gives a bright future to the staff, why would they want to anchor to somebody else?
In addition, you wonder if your management style can be too harsh. Maybe you scream at them too much? Maybe work environment is too much stressful?
“Am I a bitch boss?” I asked my husband.
“Yes, you can be a bitch boss at times.”
That doesn’t make me feel better. 🙁
When employees resign, it’s time for self-reflection. But I don’t like to wallow in self-doubt and self-pity. I’d rather go straight to the staff and ask them why they are leaving.
Employee 1 is our office manager. While she is only 27 years old, she has managed to endear herself to us. Her hands are fast, her brain is bright and she can be trusted.
So much so that by last week, she was helping us with the inventory, the hiring, the staff training, the paperworks and basically everything that’s needed to be done around the office.
Sure, there were some kinks that need to be smoothened out — say for example, her penchant of doing things too fast to the point that she overlooks mistakes because she does not double check — but overall, I like her, and if the boss likes you, she would want to keep you.
Employee 2 is our web designer.
We started off at the wrong foot. She was constantly late and frequently took leaves to take part on family vacations.
“I live in Bulacan, ma’m” she reasoned as if it was an acceptable one. “The commute is long.”
“Regardless on whether the commute is long, every employee has the responsibility of coming to work on time,” I said. “It’s about employee discipline, and when a staff does not have the discipline, they cannot be relied on anything else.”
It all came to a standstill after we assigned her to take charge of an exhibit, and she was nowhere to be found!
“Where the hell is Estee?” I asked my husband.
“She must just be around….” said my husband. I later found her going around with the model we hired, babysitting her.
“We did not pay you to babysit the model,” I said. “She can take care of her own self.”
The last straw was when she abandoned our kiosk displays at Market Market! As she was in charge, she was supposed to ensure everything was finished before she went home. Instead, she went ahead and left our kiosk, our people and our products at the venue.
Abandoning one’s post before the show is done is a no-no.
That was it. I’ve had enough.
I didn’t talk to her for a week. I didn’t care if she came or went, or what work she did. I refuse to work with someone who does not want to be taught.
She smartened up.
She came to work on time and started to finish her job without dilly-dallying.
We kept her.
And now, she’s also resigning.
How did I handle it?
Here is what I did:
1) Talk to the employee who is resigning. Find out why they are resigning first.
If someone quits your organization, it’s important to stay calm and first talk to the person who is resigning.
Why are you resigning? Is it the company? Do you think that there is no longer a plan for you within the company?
Without information, you don’t know where the organization stands, and whether you would want to keep the person or not.
For Employee 1, I learned that she didn’t realize how important she was in the organization. While her actual role was the office manager, she thought she was merely one of the staff in the office who takes orders from everyone else.
Role misunderstanding is a common issue in the office and it was an absolute pleasure for me to correct her.
“You are more important than you think,” I told her. “The company already has made plans for you since the third month you’ve started and begun to do more work in the office by training our sales staff.”
2) If you want to keep her, convince her to stay by showing her your plans for the company and what are your plans are for her. Show her she has a future inside your company.
It’s true. We have already singled her out for promotion and a pay increase ever since she started. Good people are hard to find and when you find one, you try to keep them in the organization if you can.
“I’d like to think that the company can give you a future,” I continued. “One of the best things of working for us is that we treat our employees as family. As you know, our longest employee has lasted us 18 years, and they would not have stayed if the company was bad, or if the company was there whenever they needed it.”
One of the perks of working with us is the close relationship between the employer and employee. Compared to a large corporation who cares jack shit about you and your family, our family business was instrumental in propping up our employees lives, be it support when a family member dies, when an employee gives birth, when they need a loan to buy a car or a house, and when times are tough and everyone else is shedding jobs.
“Why do you think Tess had been moved to the parent company?” I asked Employee 1. “It’s because we are confident that given her age, we can support her and her family.”
At a time where everyone jumps ship, our company is still an organization that aims for employees who can stay long with us for decades. Once proven their service and loyalty, we do give back to our employees and support them whenever we can.
“That’s why I would ask you to reconsider jumping ship,” I concluded. “Sure, your new employer may be good at first, but I doubt that they can give you what we can give you in the long run. You would once again have to start from scratch, and find your way in their political system, but I can assure you that as I know what your future would be like with us, I don’t think they can match up what we can give you if you stay.”
I have confidence to claim this because she told me about her supposedly new employer: a medium-sized construction company in Rizal where she is in charge of payroll and paperworks. Similar job description with what she’s doing now, but with less trust and a less brighter future.
I truly believe there’s a lot of politics inside the company. Her last company was a similar construction company and she left that organization after 8 years because there was too much politics. She was ousted by the president’s aunt who is in charge of accounting.
But here in our company, she has a bright future.
While she is only 27, she has already endeared herself to her employers, and we have good plans for her. Once you get a good egg, it’s a wonderful feeling to invest in this good egg instead of taking the trouble of looking for another one.
3) Dangle a pay increase if necessary. How to calculate for a pay increase.
I offered her a pay increase.
Now, I didn’t offer her a pay increase because she was leaving — that would’ve been blackmail — but I simply told her the pay increase we have planned for her ever since we have pegged her for a promotion.
How did I calculate the pay increase?
First, I looked at the company overhead. How much money can I offer this employee and still be able to support my business with a profit?
Two, I looked at what jobs she can do, and what is the fair pay for each?
Then, I looked at the fact that if she left me, how much more money will it take me to find a new person, and whether that person can deliver the same amount of goods.
Take for example, this employee does office work (e.g., tagging items, distributing them, making delivery receipts, recording our sales, etc.) and does the hiring and training of our staff. If I was to look for a new person, I would have to hire someone who is capable of doing office work and training.
Looking at the job market pool, it’s easy to find an administrative officer. It’s also easy to find a human resource person. But it’s difficult to find an administrative officer who can do human resource.
Hence, if she left, I would have to hire two people instead of her.
That amount adds up.
So I get the salary I would pay the two people, then compare that to her present salary. Given these two numbers, I would adjust my proposed salary to her that would be in the middle of what she’s getting now, and what I would pay if I hire two new people to replace her.
TA-DA! Salary increase — but a salary increase she actually deserves.
I make sure she understands that I am not increasing her salary because she is resigning. Nor am I increasing anybody’s salary because they are resigning.
Simply, I am increasing her salary because it’s about time I increase her salary, and because I like her and she deserves the salary increase.
4) Be gallant regardless on whether your resignation talk go well or not. It’s not a zero-sum game, and you can’t win them all.
In the end of the day, you cannot convince a departing employee to stay. If they want to leave, let them go. 🙂
With Employee 2, because she was leaving to greener pastures — they offered her a 35% pay increase — there’s nothing better to do but to accept her resignation and get her promise that she will ensure a proper turnover.
There’s no need to burn bridges or take things personally.
Employees come and go all the time, and nobody is truly indispensable. If your business is hinged on a single employee, then you’d better ask yourself if you’re really hands on or not. Maybe you shouldn’t be in that business after all if you are always dependent on your employees.
Anyway, there are more fishes in the sea.
5) Have Plan B, C, and D.
After I got their resignation and wallowed in a bit of self-pity, I braced myself and started looking for Plan B, C and D.
Regardless on whether I can convince them to stay or not, life will go on. I then started looking for replacements in case they do leave me.
Businesses should not be hostages to departing employees. If people leave, new people will come so long as the business is good.
And our business is doing well.
We’ve just gotten an extremely good December, we have just opened a new store in the South, and are looking to open our first provincial store in February. Sales are healthy and after a tumultuous January, I am looking forward to a brighter February.
So it’s easier to ask prospective employees to come and work with a growing ship than a sinking one. And we’re far from a sinking ship. 🙂
I got employee 1’s resignation letter last Monday. Thanks to God, He gifted me with great people this time in my job search!
I already have three prospects in mind to hire. One to replace the cheating bastard who stole from us early this January, one to replace Employee 1 if needed be, and the other one who can head our provincial push.
One already accepted. I am waiting for Prospective Candidate 2’s response to my offer, and I have already asked Prospect 3 for a final interview.
In the end, the beginning of the week was a downer. What do you really do indeed when good people resign? That one is a tough question to answer.
But by yesterday, everything is already in place. New blood will come in to replace people who may be leaving you anyway, if not now then maybe in the future, and life will go on.
Hope that you’re all doing well! Happy weekend!