It can totally side blind you. That great employee, who everyone at the office (including you) loves, says they are leaving for a job elsewhere. The common entrepreneurial reaction is to panic, offer a raise (that you can’t afford), reduce their hours, and commence the begging and pleading. This rarely works. And when it does, it merely delays the inevitable.
Instead use this approach:
1. Congratulate them on the new position and genuinely wish them great success in the new job. This, by the way, is the ultimate in human connection – caring for each other.
2. Ask them if they would be willing to share all the details of how they made their determination to take a new job, so that you can take steps to improving your company’s offering for employees. Document all the distinct reasons they believe the new job is better (more pay, better work hours, management roll). This often provides insights, but the real reason is usually emotionally based and they are unlikely to reveal it.
3. Tell them that you have an open door, and that if for any reason they want to come back that you will hire them back on the spot, assuming the position or need is available. This is key, because many employees hope the grass is greener in the new role, but find out its not, but then feel too embarrassed to ask for their job back. Your job is to make is safe for them to return.
4. Get permission to check in with them after they start their new job. Then after their first week of employment call them. Inevitably employees are most disenchanted during their first week of employment. The promises that were made to them didn’t happen. No one at the new job knows them yet and therefore they have no friends. The company may not be ready for them so they are relegated to paperwork or busy work. What they expected doesn’t happen.
5. When you check in ask them how it is going (in many cases, its not going so well), and tell them if the new job isn’t what they expected, they are welcome back.
Until we are wise enough to know, the grass always seems greener elsewhere. Don’t get upset or feel that loyalty has been compromised when a great employee gets a job elsewhere. Realize that they may just be ignorant to the realities of how good they have it.
If you follow the five step process outlined above, you won’t get your great employee back every time, but you will sometimes. And that is a big win (for you both)!