Transitions: When A Friend At Work Leaves

Amazon ImageSo this morning my friend Bart walks in to my office and tells me he is leaving the company for another job.

Notice I said a friend.  That’s because that is what he is. My friend.

Part of me is terrified at him leaving (he’s a valuable, high performing team member).

Part of me is wondering how we will replace him (cause you don’t just replace someone of that calibre easily).

But the biggest part is sadness.  I will miss my friend.

Employee Engagement 2.0: How to Motivate Your Team for High Performance (A Real-World Guide for Busy Managers)


I wish it was something that wasn’t going to happen.  But the truth is, every single one of the reasons is a very good reason.  It is not so much a career change, as a redirection (because Bart has always had a clear direction about his calling in life).

 So what do you do when a friend at work decides to change jobs?

1.   Celebrate with them – most moves are momentous.  Don’t rain on the parade.

2.  Listen with openness - sure, some folks will leave with less than great feelings about your employer, but not always (and that is the case with Bart).  Listen to what the process was that led them to this decision.

3. Admit your feelings – Everyone today was saying the same thing: “It’s a good move, but I’m still going to miss him”.  When a friend leaves the company you work at make sure they know you’ll miss them.

4.  Keep the lines of future communications open - This is especially true if you are the company owner, but also if you are a manager.  You want to see your friend go out well, but you also want him or her to know there is a place for them if they ever are looking for a change.  Obviously this has to be true, but the point is that keeping the communication lines open helps the former employee continue to be a company champion.  You may just find good future employees because of his or her input.

5.  Realize the culture is changing – When I led a team in Taipei we had some degree of turnover as people finished their assignments and returned to the USA.  When people left the team “hurt” for a while, but we came to realize we had to address the gap that was being left so we could be better positioned for the future.

The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization (Collins Business Essentials)


When a friend leaves for another company, it can be a time of sadness, but it should be a celebration — that’s what we are hoping for Bart– the very best of futures!

What about you?  Have you worked somewhere when a friend at the job left?  What was it like for you?  Why not share a comment to tell us about it?

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by Thad on February 6, 2013 · 5 comments

in leadership

  • Mandy Vaughan

    Hi Thad,
    We’ve never met, but I’m Bart’s sister. My sister-in-law sent us a link, and this post made me so happy! I hope y’all will find someone wonderful to take up where Bart has left off, but I can tell you from personal experience that you will always miss having him around. It’s been a great pleasure to watch my “little” brother grow up to be such a wise, funny, hard-working, kind, easy-going and Godly man, and I am elated to hear that others can see his sterling character, too! All the best as y’all move forward at work, and thanks for being such a good colleague and friend to Bart.

    Mandy Vaughan
    Oxford, England

    • Thad

      Mandy, thanks so much for this comment. We have been greatly blessed to have him here with us at The Karis Group. He helped us pioneer Kare360 as well as The Health Co-Op.

  • Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank

    I have lost a heap of great colleagues. Normally it sucks for a while until the new person gets up to speed, but normally it all works out in the end. If not, then there are always other jobs out there.

    • Thad

      Yes, when someone leaves it is definitely felt!

  • Greg@ClubThrifty

    It is weird how the addition or subtraction of one person can change the dynamic of the office. I’m sorry that your friend is leaving, but it sounds like you handled it well. Congratulations to him!

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