A Good Bye with Humanity

How often as a leader do you have someone in your circle of influence (manager, peer, direct report, maybe even a customer or consultant) that leaves your organization? Fairly often, I’ll bet. And how often do you say “good bye” with humanity? I’m saddened at how often this is missing from a send-off.

When we consider the word, “good bye”, it has the essence of well-wishes in it. Yet, we neglect to wish our colleagues well when they leave. Even if they are going to something better, they may be upset because they are still leaving something behind.

The reason for their exit, in most cases, shouldn’t matter to the simple act of showing humanity and compassion. Isn’t it the humane thing to do to show some compassion with a good bye? As a leader, your job is to see and treat people with humanity, even as they are walking out the door.

Allow them to work as long as it makes sense to do so: So often I hear of someone putting in their advance notice of resignation and the manager immediately shows them to the door. I do understand that this is the way it must be in some cases. But don’t escort someone out just because you are angry. Let them work as long as they can, when possible.

Set aside a few minutes. Have a 1:1 conversation with them before they leave. Ask them if you can help them in their transition. Listen well. This will let the person know that they matter as they are heading out the door.

Thank them. A few words of gratitude, expressed with compassion and sincerity, are in order. This can be brief, but heartfelt. Reflect on your words ahead of time, and I’m sure that you will be able to say the right things.

Be specific. Almost everyone, even if they have disappointed you, have given something of value to you and the organization. Let them know what that is, and let them know you will miss what they brought to your leadership and your organization.

I’ve heard some say, “I accept your resignation with regret”; that’s fine, but how about accepting it with compassion? Don’t leave your humanity at the workplace door and don’t let others walk out without theirs.

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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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