Want to keep your talent? Tell them how to leave

The Last Word

Learn more about:

Timothy Pappas

Pappas DeLaney LLC | Hales Corners
Industry: Executive search, coaching and development
Employees: 10

Timothy Pappas has more than 20 years of experience in executive search and coaching. He specializes in hiring to the culture to avoid turnover. One key to retention, he says, is making it clear to employees how to leave the company.


“Complete this sentence:  If a company is going to fire you, it should never be __________.

“People quit every day, and sometimes in awful ways because they have never been told how to do it properly. I send a letter to all employees with the following information:

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‘Although it may seem odd, our first order of business is to tell you how to leave the organization in a way you will be welcomed back should you ever need to rebound:

  1. If you quit out of the blue, you will never be welcomed back. If you are not performing to job expectations, you will know it and will be given an opportunity to fix it—we expect the same consideration.
  2. If you come in with an offer expecting us to match it, we will not. If you speak up about what is wrong, we may help you, if possible, before it becomes critical.
  3. Prior to quitting, tell us what is wrong with your current situation and give us a chance to fix it. If we can’t, we will help you out of the organization gently and welcome you back as a prodigal son/daughter should you elect to return. We mean this…no, really!’

“These ‘instructions’ are reinforced several times per year. Teach your talent to communicate—you may be pleasantly surprised when they actually do give you a chance to fix something!”

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