The sudden disappearance of workplace colleagues might make a good scene in a thriller movie, but let it happen in real life and you could be setting the stage for disconcerted, distracted remaining workforce who would rather leave than stay tuned for the happy ending. When colleagues leave for another job, keep employees' fears at bay with a timely, well-worded announcement.
The longer you wait to make the announcement, the more likely rumors and negative speculations will increase, which is why executive coach and owner of Incedo Group Linda Finkle suggests letting your team know as soon as you find out -- even if a replacement or end-date details aren't quite finalized. First inform those who work most closely with the departing employee and then announce to your whole organization within the week. If your coworker is choosing another job without giving proper notice or prefers a private exit, consider calling your department to a meeting area to share the news while the employee packs his items alone and leaves incognito.
Your chosen announcement mode varies according to a number of factors, including the size of your organization, the overall value of the employee, and the impact of her departure. Opt for face-to-face communication for the one or two people for whom the change will have the greatest impact, and call a special meeting to announce the departure to the department affected by the loss. For organization-wide announcements, an in-house email or mention in the company newsletter suits the purpose well.
If being the messenger of bad news makes you tongue-tied, you're not alone. Tim Donnelly, writing for Inc. Magazine, states nervousness is common among those making such announcements and recommends brevity as the solution. Keep your announcement focused on the essentials such as the name of the employee, acknowledgement of work accomplished, the exit date, the name of the employee's replacement and any other details employees need to know to adapt to the change. Avoid lengthy introductions to the news as this promotes tension and answer any questions your team may have. Keep your tone positive and focused on a happy future for both your business and the career-changing employee.
Your departing employee may wish to make the announcement himself. If you're confident he has no bitter feelings toward your organization -- and his professionalism will stay intact -- a self-announcement could put everyone more at ease. Plan to be present or to preview his email announcement. Encourage your colleague to avoid sappiness and to send the communication to a manager-approved list of employees who truly need to know. If the exiting employee is in a leadership role or highly valued on your team, consider hosting a good-bye party -- with cake, of course -- and asking each team member to sign a card to wish him well on his journey.