Sure, it’s nice to build a team that functions well together and is highly effective. But despite all efforts to keep it strong and lasting, you’re bound to lose some of your players along the way. Or it may be your time to move on. Regardless of the cause, everyone involved should know how to respond. Let’s take a look at giving notice, from both sides of the fence.

When you leave
If you’re the one who is bidding the team farewell, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Carefully consider your reasons for leaving. Are you acting out of emotion or have you thoughtfully considered all the factors?
  • Draft a resignation letter. If you’ve made up your mind to leave, this correspondence can protect you, as well as the employer, from legal considerations. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t put in anything that could be used against you later in a legal action. Follow up an oral resignation with a written letter.
  • Schedule a time with your supervisor to discuss your decision when you’ll be alone and uninterrupted.
  • Avoid emotional exchanges. If you feel that you’re approaching an emotionally charged mood, suggest rescheduling the meeting until everyone has calmed down.
  • Keep the tone positive. Even if you’re leaving under less than harmonious terms, you don’t want to burn bridges. Future employers often go back as many as 10 years for references.
  • Leave coworkers on positive ground. Rebuild troubled relationships with fellow employees. Chances are you will cross paths in the future.
  • Give proper notice. Most organizations have a stated policy for this in their employee manuals.
  • If applicable, review your employment contract thoroughly. Make sure you abide by all terms of the agreement.
  • Avoid or carefully consider counteroffers. Employers will often try this tack to retain valuable employees. But be wary: Find out why the employer is just now offering you these benefits. Will you have to threaten to quit each time to gain an advancement? Keep in mind that a counteroffer is belated confirmation of your value to the organization—the key word being belated.

When a staff member leaves
Having someone leave your team is not one of the things a team leader looks forward to. The degree of involvement you have in the employee’s departure will depend on your exact role, but the more you know about the process from the employer’s perspective, the better off you will be. Here are some guidelines:

  • Avoid an emotional reaction. Resignations often catch employers off guard, which can frequently lead to negative emotions toward the employee. Remember that the last impression an employee has will usually be the one conveyed to others regarding the culture of your organization.
  • Ensure that the employee is leaving for positive reasons. Often, employees overreact to organizational or managerial decisions. See if there is something that they may have misinterpreted or were unaware of.
  • Request a resignation letter. Make sure that it’s properly completed, signed, and dated.
  • Strictly adhere to organizational guidelines. Many organizations have stated policies and procedures for this event. Expedite the completion of all written paperwork and forward it to your organization’s human resources department.
  • Involve your human resources staff early. Remember, they’re the experts for handling this kind of situation.
  • If confidential access or company secrets are at risk, consider reassigning the employee to less confidential work during his or her remaining time.
  • Consider attempting to retain the employee. Often, employees leave for career opportunities. Determine whether your organization can provide a similar opportunity.
  • If money is the issue, evaluate the employee in comparison to others in your organization with similar experience. If warranted, make a counteroffer.
  • Treat the employee fairly and cordially. This is for both the benefit of the resigning employee and that of your remaining staff.
  • Inform the departing employee of continued benefit options, such as health care (COBRA) and unemployment insurance.
  • If applicable, negotiate a severance package for the employee. These often include continued pay, benefits, and reemployment services.

When good things come to an end: The exit interview
A departing employee is frequently asked to participate in an exit interview. Usually administered by the organization’s human resources department, the exit interview provides helpful information on the employee’s work history and experience at the company.

An exit interview also provides the final opportunity for the employee to voice specific concerns he or she may have had during the course of employment. This information is valuable for the purposes of addressing staffing or management issues, corporate culture, and employee retention.

For the employer, the exit interview enables organizations to ensure that they have met all legal obligations, such as benefit notification. Employers can also use the exit interview for the purposes of retrieving the organization’s property, such as cell phones, pagers, ID badges, and parking cards.

It’s a small world
While the IT field can seem large at times, you may be surprised by how small it really can be. Leaving on good terms can only help you in the long run. If you are among those remaining, treat the departing team members with proper respect. Remember, they are making a move they believe is best for them or their family. You never know when you may encounter each other again or what opportunities can spring from such a future meeting.