It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

I wrote earlier about how leadership can affect a team and its results, but how much does one individual contribute to the team? What happens if you have a team that works really well together, with each member feeling like an essential part of the whole, and someone moves on? Are any of us irreplaceable? While it is hard to lose a great team member, it is also an opportunity.

For some teams, especially small ones, it is hard when a team member is on vacation, let alone leaving the team! It is hard to say good-bye to a good friend, a good colleague, and a good team member when they move on, but how can this be a good thing? A new opportunity? But the person that is leaving is perfect! How can we replace that?

While you will never be able to find an employee or team member that is exactly the same as the one before, a vacancy is an opportunity that a good leader can capitalize on. By taking the time to decide what are the key skills needed for this position, evaluating those applicants with the appropriate skills, and most importantly, seeing the value that a new perspective can bring to the team, you can turn this opening into a valuable opportunity.

Besides having a great personality and being a team player, what are the skills and characteristics that distinguish your departing coworker? Take some time to make a list of these before beginning the search for his replacement. If you can pinpoint these, you will stand a better chance of being able to weed out candidates that will not have the required skill set.

It can be difficult to find someone with all the necessary skills that made your departing employee stand out. Making a list of the core skills necessary to fill the vacant role will allow you to prioritize and determine which skills you are willing to compromise on if a likely candidate is lacking in one area, but stronger in another. If the hiring process can be seen as an opportunity, your firm could end up with a great team member. The majority of the best candidates will have a particular area that they specialize in, or useful hobbies, allowing you to capitalize on these ‘bonus’ talents.

What useful talents might they have? We have found instructors that can write grants, administrative personnel that can teach adaptive sports, and trainers that can organize events. In a small organization, we all wear many hats and the addition of skills outside of those required for the job can be a benefit to the entire team. When replacing a valued team member, this can be a ‘silver lining’ that can help ease the transition.

This is also an opportunity internally for existing team members to expand their scope. Creatively using the talents of your team can lead to great results. Don’t be afraid to use an employee turnover situation as the catalyst for other changes that allow for maximizing the effectiveness of your team. Seek out your team’s hidden talents and share them below!


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