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Management and Leadership in Nonprofits

Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


What to do when people leave their job

Feb 21, 2020
By: Tammy T. Jelinek
What to do when people leave their job

If you have been in the working world long enough, you have had a colleague leave. Since I have left and come back to the same company, I have been on all sides of this adventure.

It’s always interesting to me what happens when someone leaves. There are layers:

  • We are surprised – even when we really shouldn’t be because most time the writing is on the wall
  • We are upset – because we may have to do more work AND because we may be saying goodbye to our work confidant
  • We are happy – for them because they are moving on to their next adventure and for us because maybe by them leaving, we may be asked to advance by learning new skills or moving up the ladder
  • We are worried – because we may not be as good at something as they were, or we may be better and get to absorb that responsibility
  • We are sad – we may miss them being with us each day to face the workday
  • We are hesitant – what if the next person hired is not the best fit, doesn’t connect with the team, or does an amazing job and is even better than the rest of us
  • We are… you can add so many emotions here to fit so many circumstances

You see where I am going with this. 

Change is coming at the fastest pace ever in the workplace. And sometimes it gets exhausting. They even have a name for it, “change fatigue.” 

Then we add the human side to change, the emotions. It can be a rollercoaster that no one was ready for – except maybe the person who chose to leave.

What can we do when a colleague goes? 

  • Wish them well in their next adventure or journey
  • Be kind to those who are left to keep the work moving along
  • Be kind to yourself as you go through all the emotions and changes that come with saying goodbye to one person and hello to another person
  • Take the opportunity to look at the work and re-evaluate it since “we’ve always done it this way” is a trap we all fall into
  • Be welcoming to the new person

What has made your journey leaving a job positive? What have you done to help make someone else’s journey positive? Please share. 

Wishing you a great day and remember: Lead with legacy – 



Tammy T. Jelinek, MBA
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