A Hero's Farewell: How to handle employee exits with dignity

What happens in South Africa doesn't stay in South Africa, especially if it's news about India's beloved hero Virat Kohli's resignation from captaincy.

The shock waves of Virat Kohli's resignation following the Test Series in South Africa resulted in mass confusion among the game's lovers. One couldn't help but wonder, "What just happened? Why would a captain of Kohli's stature announce his resignation from captaincy on social media? Was there a lack of emotional response from the BCCI?"

And of course, the most important question of all – could his resignation have been delivered in any better fashion than getting 'stumped' while 'on the home stretch'? 

Although his resignation may already have been on the cards, we can't help but believe that the 'step-down' could have been managed without a spectacle that left a sour taste for cricket fans. After winning innumerable accolades for the country, it feels like an incomplete end to a fantastic inning. Quite anti-climactic!

As a business coach, leadership teams and employees often ask me how to handle employee exits better.

Dignity is a force that governs how we present ourselves to the world. It moulds our relationships because at the end of the day, irrespective of where we stand in the societal hierarchy, personally or professionally, human beings want to be treated with dignity. 

No wonder the incident drew much flak for the governing body and certainly gave us quite a few leadership lessons to mull over. 

  • If we meet again, then we'll smile indeed. If not, it's true, this parting was well made. 

An adage from a play that is quite relevant in the current business scenario presents a solid case to make an exit or parting of ways in business a mutually respectful affair. 

A leader should ensure that when an employee leaves your organization, it is done in a dignified manner and you make their exit as respectful as their joining day and celebrate the work they put in to create a success story for your firm.

If the tenure wasn't fruitful, extending a courteous goodbye will bore good results in the long run because how you treat an employee, who is leaving, paints a picture in front of your current employees and affects how they feel about the leader and the organisation. 

  • When going gets tough, the tough get tactful

Strategy isn't for acquisitions and financial gains alone. Being strategic about the exit of team members and employees is an essential component of leadership's suit of armour. Sensitive situations involving people/employees in the corporate world needs to be handled gracefully and respectfully. Respect is a critical business leadership trait that showcases your prowess as a leader and establishes your reputation. Also, a disgruntled employee isn't good for future business prospects. 

  • Business is personal

Most employees spend more time working at an organisation and with their colleagues than anywhere else. Hence, the lines are blurred, and most events taking place during business hours affect people personally. Especially when it is a tricky situation that affects a person's career trajectory, a good leader will handle the situation humanely and ensure the outcome doesn't push a person towards an abyss of negative outlook towards work/life or themselves. 

  • Communication is critical

With the provision of multiple platforms to talk and connect, it would come as a surprise that most corporate fiascos related to mismanagement of people happen because of lack of communication. 

Communicating the issue and making the party involved in resolution would stave off most problems without affecting the reputation of the organisation and the leaders involved. Timely communication delivered with a healthy dose of motivation brings trust in the association and can turn even a hostile situation favourable. 

Especially now.

If anything, the last two years have taught leaders the necessity of compassion and respect towards peers and employees alike. The leadership perspective stands altered—empathy, compassion and kindness are now a part of the leadership lexicon. EQ and kinesics are deemed as necessary as suave assertiveness in business dealings, especially when it concerns other human beings.

One must be a good mentor who can guide, motivate, and encourage towards productivity, passion, and purpose before being tagged as a leader. 

After all, leadership is nothing but motivating your people and team for a higher purpose.

Category: Family Business
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