A management mistake from my past

Some time ago I made a mistake regarding how I handled communication of a sensitive issue. One of the people on our team notified HR and myself that he was leaving the company. How the team found out about this was my mistake.

The problem was that the person being groomed to become the Lead of the team found out at the same time as everyone else.

Less than a day went by before notice was given and the entire team knew. I should have told the soon-to-be leader immediately so that he would be prepared to field questions from the people that already reported to him.

He was approached by several team members asking what was going on and he didn’t have an answer.

Here’s what I learned …

If you’re going to trust someone to Lead, you have to treat them differently chronologically; there is an order of operations for sensitive information and they have to be included earlier in the process. Unless your entire organization supports Radical Transparency.

If you’re going to trust someone to Lead, you have to loop them into the staff changes as they are happening. In this example, most folks guessed that this individual was looking for another job, and many conversations were had. Many of these talks included the soon-to-be leader, but, perhaps not enough of them. I don’t think the outcome would have been different but the soon-to-be leader would have gained some valuable experience.

If you’re going to trust someone to Lead, let them help guide the process for what to do when someone leaves the company. Sadly it isn’t always as straight forward as “hire someone to take over that other persons position and workload”. Often creative solutions are called for and you’ll need to trust your Leaders to help. They may think of something you didn’t or disprove an assumption of yours or plus an idea.

It’s never an easy when a team member leaves, but as Managers and Leaders we need to do a good job at being transparent and communicating properly.

As a Manager, what things have you done to communicate staff changes to the teams you work for?