Dealing with Turnover

Posted November 29, 2011 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

When writing about turnover, I  just couldn’t resist actually putting a turnover at the top of the post – ha! Now that we’re done with that….on to the point…

When you work in a large corporation, you might be a bit insulated from the turnover it experiences. My husband, for instance, has worked for  Fortune 50 company for over a year now and only one person in his department has left. The job will likely be filled internally rather than externally. Turnover, to him, is virtually non-existent.

However, when you work for a smaller firm, nonprofit or business, you’re more aware of turnover. It’s not to say there’s more or less than at a large corporation – just that it’s more prevalent and employees are more cognizant of it happening. You know when everyone from assistants to VPs leaves the company – and you usually know why.

So how do you deal with turnover in your job? For me, this is what works:

  • Repeat after me, “It’s not about them. It’s about me.” Often turnover can represent insecurities about your own job or your own work. Perhaps a supervisor you trusted and enjoyed working with leaves, and you think, “Am I any good at this job without this person?” Or maybe it’s a coworker who supports you on bad days and you think, “How will I ever deal with this place without them?” Well, it’s not about them. It’s about you. You need to be good at your job independent of your team.
  • Leadership, not rank. Losing department leadership, or even a leader at the top of the company, can be daunting. Often, employees are lost as to how they might operate without a “boss”. I contend, however, that leadership in an organization is not always about rank. Anyone can be a leader from any post. Some of the best “glue that holds the place together” people are actually administrative assistants. They can be leaders, and so can you. So when someone high ranking leaves the company, take the opportunity to see yourself and the people around you as leaders who can navigate the transition smoothly.
  • Keep things normal. If you lose the person who normally runs meeting X on Tuesday, don’t cancel the meeting. Keep it going. Don’t let your team lose momentum because of a loss.
  • Welcome the new guy (or gal). On my first day at my job, someone told me they “didn’t like to see me sitting in that desk” because they really liked the person who used to sit there. This person didn’t even do the same job as me, they just sat in the same desk. It didn’t do much to make a girl feel welcome. So if someone does come into that job (or desk), welcome them with open arms and remember, it’s not their fault the position was open.

Everyone eventually has to deal with turnover….let you be the person who deals with it well.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."