How you deal with people when they leave, and in particular during their notice period, can have a big impact on how they remember you and your company.
Firstly, lets acknowledge that when someone tells you they want to leave it hurts. You may have known them a long time, considered them friends and offered them the job in the first place. It feels like a huge rejection and you can feel foolish as if none of those previous experiences mattered. This is a natural reaction, but don’t let it shape your actions. Take a deep breath, bite your tongue and calm down. It was probably a difficult decision on their part and they will appreciate a professional response. This is a stressful time, so taking any emotion away can be a big help.
Secondly, once the dust has settled, make sure you use the time that person has left with you wisely. You need to make sure all the knowledge they have is not lost when they leave. You should also try and learn the reasons for them leaving. Whilst everyone is different, if there is something you can discover, improve and prevent others leaving then it is worth listening. Again, take the emotion out of the situation, encourage an open discussion and don’t argue. You may hear a number of criticisms of yourself, your colleagues and your company; this can hurt, but don’t react emotionally. A bad reaction can simply end the conversation and prevent you learning any more valuable information. Instead, you need to listen, take note and thank the other person for their honesty. You don’t have to agree with the criticism, but you shouldn’t just dismiss it.
Whilst it always has an impact when someone leaves, by reacting in the right way you can at least try and get something positive from the situation. Ex-employees can still be friends and may want to work with you again in the future if you handle this situation well.