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problem employees, personnel issues


North Central Business Journal

(May 2002 issue)

by Sandra Kay Neal, Ph.D.

(Synergistic Organizational Solutions has relocated to Centralia, Washington.  As a result, this is the last article Dr. Neal wrote for North Central Business Journal.)

          Most people change jobs about every five years.  The reasons for the change are varied; some leave to get a job which is more challenging, some leave to get a job with better remuneration, some leave to reduce stress and tension.  But regardless of the reason, people who are leaving a job need to do a few things to make the transition smoother.

          The person who is leaving has probably been thinking about doing so for quite a while.  First, they toyed with the idea, then they decided to test the waters to see if there were other jobs available.  When they finally choose a new job, the idea of leaving is no longer new.  But it is very new to colleagues and employees.  The first reaction of colleagues and employees to an announcement of a manager’s leaving is usually surprise, often followed by grief and fear.

          The manager’s superiors are told first.  They may be worried about finding a replacement, and the amount of time the person gives before leaving can go a long way toward helping the company have the opportunity to do a thorough search for a replacement.  That will reduce the fears of the manager’s superiors.

          The people who work for that manager may feel frightened about what the future will hold – will the new boss be difficult to work for?  – will the new boss appreciate my work?  – will the new boss change my job duties?  These fears are rational fears connected to unknown change.  The departing boss can help his/her employees by encouraging them to look at their fears.  Articulating fears usually reduces their impact.

          Some people assume that the time between the announcement of departure and the actual exit is wasted time.  That is not accurate.  That time allows the other people in the company to get used to the change and to work through their grief at losing a major part of their lives.  The interim time also allows the departing manager to get things organized so that his/her successor can step in easily.

          The interim time also provides an opportunity for the departing manager to say goodbye to everyone in the company, as well as clients and business colleagues.  This goodbye time should not be overlooked.  Some people feel uncomfortable about saying goodbye and prefer to exit without saying it.  This temptation should be resisted.  People need closure, and saying goodbye provides it.  Saying goodbye also allows the departing manager to say nice things that they have thought but never stated.  People need to hear that they have been appreciated and valued, and the goodbye offers an opportunity to say that.

          Following my advice, I need to say goodbye to all my readers.  I have enjoyed hearing from you these past three years.  I have appreciated knowing that the advice has been useful.  I am relocating my business to Washington State at the end of August for family reasons.  I will still be available via email if I can be of help to people in Ohio.  The website will remain the same – http://www.sos-hr.com.  Instructions for emailing me will be found there.

          I particularly want to thank the two editors of North Central Business Journal with whom I have worked these past three years.  Ryan and Marc have been wonderful.  A special word to Marc – you have done wonders with this publication.  Thanks for your great gifts. 

          Sandra Kay Neal holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and has 25 years experience helping organizations solve human resource issues.   Her Centralia, Washington-based company, Synergistic Organizational Solutions, specializes in aiding small businesses.  Dr. Neal can be reached at sos_hr@localaccess.com.

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