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Why Do You Feel Like A Failure When Somebody Leaves Your Team?

Someone wants to leave your team. They’re ready to move on to a new role or a different company. Do you feel like you have failed? Many leaders do.

I’m not just talking about feeling sad they’re going or that you’re losing a great person. I mean, are you taking it personally and feeling like you have done something wrong?

At this point, plenty of leaders will try to do everything they can to get that person to stay – throw money at them, promise them a better future, new projects – and maybe it will work. But not always.

Here’s why – and it’s a bit of a newsflash! No one wants to stay in one job for life anymore.

The future is job opportunities and experiences

Have you ever considered the concept of a ‘Tour of Duty’? It’s one that I love, from The Alliance, co-authored by Reid Hoffman, founder and chairman of LinkedIn.

A Tour of Duty means setting the expectations of a new employee, even in the interview stage, by discussing what they want to achieve, how long they might work for you, and what they will need to do to grow and develop in the role.

Most employees today consider their career to be a portfolio of opportunities and experiences gained from different teams and businesses. They’ll appreciate that you are invested in their development from the start and understand that each role adds something new.

The benefits of supporting your team’s development

Taking the Tour of Duty approach has plenty of benefits. Here’s some that I’ve experienced with my own team.

  1. We’ve set 2-way expectations and allowed real conversations to happen from the very beginning – even before they start. I’ve already talked with my current team about what we both want to get from the role, and what would happen if it doesn’t work out. We all know where we stand, and we can come back to this conversation any time any of us needs to.

  2. I’ve always known when a member of my team is looking for a new role months before they leave, because they’re happy to tell me. Sometimes I’ve been able to keep them a little longer by changing the role to support their development further. But if I can’t, then I help with their job search. This also means they don’t have to lie to me about going to job interviews.

  3. With plenty of advance notice, I can start planning their replacement early, even before they officially resign. It might be that I talk to recruiters and ask them to keep an eye open for someone, or that I can speed up the development of someone else in the team. The leaving team member can help with their training. And they often tell recruiters how great it is to work for me, which makes the recruiter more likely to recommend my vacancy over another to the best person.

  4. Because I’m adult about the idea team members will move on and leave, the experience has been better for everyone. That means the person leaving isn’t resentful or defensive, and their engagement in their work hasn’t dipped while they serve their notice. I often have to kick people out of the door at 8pm on their last day, because they want to leave everything in a great state!

As a leader, it’s important not to take people leaving as a personal failure. Perhaps it’s actually a success – you’ve given them the skills and development they needed to move up a step on their career path. And you’ve given them a great experience.

By supporting them on their journey, my own ‘alumni’ remain really engaged with my business, support my social media content, refer great people to me, and sometimes even come back themselves, like our fabulous coach and facilitator, Caroline and our chief cheerleader and operations guru, Sally.

By taking the Tour of Duty approach, I’ve really built up my network and my brand.

Are you unsure of your approach as a people leader? If you’re ready to tackle your leadership style, we’re ready to help.

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