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How to Avoid Problems When an Employee Leaves Your Team

Posted on May 10, 2016
Cheryl BookerWritten by Cheryl Booker | Email author

kelly and michaelWhat we Learned from Live! with Kelly & Michael…

On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, the television show, Live! with Kelly & Michael’s audience welcomed Kelly Ripa’s return to daytime television with a standing ovation. Kelly returned to the show after taking a few days off to celebrate her wedding anniversary and a few extra impromptu days (sick days) were taken off to allow her time to process Michael Strahan’s departure from Live. According to entertainment news, Kelly did not receive the news of Michael’s departure until a few moments prior to the information being released to the public. She was given no time to process and according to news articles, Michael Strahan was not allowed to discuss his departure with others.

Kelly Ripa is human, she was hurt by the news and spoke candidly with the audience about the need for “communication, consideration and respect in the workplace”. This caused me to reflect on where we stand as a culture of HR professionals and the organizations we represent as it relates to communication, consideration and respect in the workplace.

How Important is “Communication, Consideration and Respect in the Workplace” to your Organization?

Communication: The most basic definition of communication is an exchange of information between two or more individuals. It sounds easy, but many misunderstandings are based on the unintended meanings through the delivery of messages. We all have an understanding of what effective communication looks like to us as an individual. However, is there an appropriate understanding as it relates to the organizations in which we hold titles ranging from CHRO to HR Assistant? There have been many discussions about the current multi-generational workforce and what each generation expects from an employer. I challenge you to remove the generational conversation and look at everyone as an individual with individual needs and what that communication would look like for each employee.

Since this blog article begins with the employment transfer of Michael Strahan, let us continue with an employment transfer as an example of what steps an organization can take to communicate an employee position transfer. When someone is a part of a team, it is important to think of how the group will receive the important message that a member is transferring to a different unit.  Some basic guidelines for the delivery of the message include:

  • Develop a communication plan with talking points and discuss with the work group prior to announcing to the entire organization (or the world).
  • Allow the team to process the information. It has been my experience that many questions will be based on personal employee needs – “What is next for me? Where do I fit in the organization now?”
  • Once the group has had an opportunity to process and digest the information, inform the entire organization and the public, if necessary.

Consideration: To achieve the highest level of communication requires consideration – a careful thought process. Consideration of the spoken or written words, consideration of the intended audience and consideration of the environment in which the communication will occur. The organization must consider who will receive the message and potentially how the information will be perceived. Complete an organizational self-reflection and answer the following questions:

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • When is the best time to deliver the information and should it be provided through written or spoken communication? If written, what form of written communication – email, newsletter, or through a memorandum? If spoken, should it be delivered at a town hall, 1:1 session, small department meetings, or near the water cooler.
  • Are there past lessons that were learned and/or need reviewing as a communication plan is developed? Has this situation occurred previously? What was the end result?

With time to consider the messaging, it may become necessary to alter the message, delivery and timing. If this is necessary, take the time to regroup. It is imperative the message is received and processed to build and not fracture the team.

Respect in the Workplace: When there is a perceived lack of communication and a perceived lack of consideration being taken, employees will begin to feel disrespected in the workplace. Respect works two ways; it is earned by the organization and the employee. When respect is lost, it is very difficult to recreate. Lack of respect in the organization can lead to employment disengagement. Studies have shown that when an employee is mildly disengaged, it can cost an organization $3,400 per $10,000 salary increment. For a $50,000 salary, a company could lose $17,000 annually. Imagine what ABC/Disney stands to lose if Kelly’s feelings allow her to become mildly disengaged with a $20 million dollar annual salary. If Kelly was disengaged for 3 months, it could cost her organization, $1.7 million. Many of us, do not work with organizations where the cost of disengagement would cost millions of dollars for one employee. However, disengagement due to perceived lack of respect in the workplace can cause a multitude of issues in an organization beyond just the dollars.

Lessons that we, as HR professionals, can take away from Michael Strahan’s transfer from Live! Kelly & Michael to Good Morning America: communicate to your team, be considerate in the messaging and maintain respect in the workplace.

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