Should We Celebrate Employee Transitions?

December 5, 2019by Crystal McKinsey


It’s a story many working professionals are familiar with: the decision to pursue a new opportunity, one that presents upward mobility in a fast-growing industry or is more aligned with your passions or experience. The process itself can feel daunting, from screening interviews to in-person meetings, followed by presentations to the current team, and in some cases, a trial or internship period to see how you fit with the role. 

The stress doesn’t always end with the interview process, however. Then there’s the conversation to have with your current employer, and in some cases, that conversation is harder than landing the new job.

Countless professionals have expressed to me that they are actually scared to put in their notice to pursue a new opportunity because they are unsure of how their current supervisor will react. In some cases, they’ve witnessed the poor handling of previous transitions.

We have heard stories of companies choosing to delete an employee’s email access in the middle of the night (demonstrating the resignation had clearly been accepted — immediately). I’ve spoken to someone who worked ten years in a role and was escorted off-site immediately when she shared her intent to resign, not even being allowed to finish off the months’ notice she chose to give. Perhaps the most radical story was a previous supervisor calling a new supervisor with intent to sabotage a job offer. 

Stories like these circulate around every industry delivering one underlying message to employers: we are not quitting your company, we are quitting your leadership. 

The average time spent at a company is now around 3 years (millennial tenure is even shorter). As leaders, business owners, corporate CEOs, and supervisors, we must do a better job of handling the inevitable employee transition.

Your employees will eventually leave your company. True leaders never lose their team.

This means that even if someone moves on to a new opportunity, the relationship maintained through that switch is based upon mutual respect and gratitude. 

Investing in your team personally and professionally by taking an interest in their lives outside of work, supporting and encouraging ongoing education, and even challenging someone to outgrow their role and search for their next great opportunity builds a strong foundation. Celebrating transitions and recognizing the role your organization played in helping an employee reach his or her next goal is equally important.

Establish a transparent (and consistent) process for handling employee transitions. You may even consider appointing a team member as chair of your employer “alumni relations” committee to keep in touch with former employees (whom may be great future hire referral sources).

Start a discussion with your team about employee transitions and ways in which you can improve them. It will go a long way in maintaining positive relationships with transitioning employees.

Your professional paths may cross again one day.

~ Crystal McKinsey + Samantha Cooke

Crystal McKinsey