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When Many Employees Leave the Company Simultaneously

Feelings Aside
Retention

17 June, 2021

Eric Rabinovich
Eric Rabinovich

VP of Engineering at Aspectiva - a Walmart company

Eric Rabinovich, Vice President of Research and Development at Aspectiva, remains calm, cool, and collected when a company shake-up causes many employees to leave at once.

Problem

As a leader, in the end, you’re alone. Sometimes, as leaders, we tend not to think of things in terms of people leaving the company. We tend to think of things in terms of people leaving you, instead. It’s not an easy thing to think about, because at times you can feel as though you’re not good enough, or that it was because of something that you did or said.

At some junctures, it can feel like an avalanche. One person leaves, and then another, and so on. It can feel unstoppable once it starts to roll downhill. What is the best way to turn it around and to understand what needs to be done? How can you plan ahead afterward?

Actions taken

The first thing that you need to ask yourself: why are you staying in the company and not leaving it yourself? Think about whether or not you are up for the fight ahead. If you feel that you are truly a believer and that this place is good for you, take a look at the other people remaining in the room with you. You will notice that they all fall into one of three groups.

The first group will be people who are leaving but have not yet left. For these people, it’s okay. Just let them go gracefully. Just remember that we’re all human. It’s perfectly fine if they decide to leave. They’re your colleagues, but you do not stand in their shoes.

The second group will be those who will stick around because they love what you do. Perhaps they love the company. Perhaps they love you as a leader. They want to stick around because they see a future in the company. This is great. You need to hug them hard and never let them go.

The third group is still thinking about it. They’re not sure. Their shields are down, they’ll think about answering some recruiters that reach out to them, but they have not yet decided. Those are the people that you should be focusing your attention on.

Gather together with those still working with you. Celebrate the fact that you’re all still there to stay with one another. For the group still weighing their options, the positivity may turn things around for them.

Try to think about each person still considering leaving as an individual. Why is each thinking about resigning? Is it only because other people are leaving? Have they been with the company for a long time? Do they need a change of scenery? What is their motivation? Think long-term about the new structure of your company, try to find a suitable place for them to be. Talk to them about it.

In general, there will be surprises, even after delineating these three groups in your head. It’s important to understand that. People leave, even if you do the best that you possibly can. If they do end up going that way, make sure that they know that they leave on good terms with you. The best thing that you can do is to start recruiting anew. New blood into the company will allow everything to continue flowing. New faces, new stories, and new adventures.

Lessons learned

  • In tech, people leave their jobs all of the time. You need to be accepting of this. Leave all of your anger and your hard feelings behind you. Let it go so that you may embrace those around you.
  • Avoid giving people an ultimatum. Don’t be the guy who says to take it or leave it. That approach never works. Give them a path back to the company, without any stress.
  • Sometimes, you’ll have a person saying that they’re with you 100%, and, three months later, they take another offer out of the blue.
  • Understand that this journey is a rollercoaster. There is no point where everything will be smooth from now on. There is always another big wave coming. Are you here to stay, or are you here to flee?

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