Career Advice, Watercooler

How to Cope When a Coworker Quits

Businesswoman holding up hand at meeting

When a colleague leaves your team, it can cause friction as dynamics change, and people’s workload can feel overwhelming during this time of transition. Your mindset will determine how quickly you bounce back and move through the changes. 

So how can you benefit and employ your growth mindset as your colleague moves on to new opportunities? Consider taking advantage of the situation in the following ways:

Strengthen new relationships. 

It’s natural to gravitate towards people who share similarities when you’re working on a team of diverse personalities. Once a work friendship is created, it’s easy to fall back on that colleague for things like project collaborations, brainstorms, and even social events. 

These close relationships can have several advantages, as a Gallup study reports that women who have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who say otherwise (29%).

However, having a close relationship with some colleagues can also cause you to overlook the other people on your team that you may not have immediately bonded with. As one colleague leaves, it opens up the door for new relationships to form. You’ll be motivated to make new relationships both on your team and within your company, and participate in events you may have previously said no to. 

Consider grabbing a coffee with other teammates and have a conversation about how you can help support them through the transition. Offer help on projects wherever possible, and take this time to start leaning on one another. The bigger your internal network is at work, the more success you’ll find and the more familiar your workplace will feel!

Develop better time management.

When someone leaves the team, they don’t take their work, or responsibilities with them, unfortunately. This means that you and the rest of the team will have to take on the lion share of their projects. This can be overwhelming at first, but can ultimately force you to become more productive with the time that you have, bringing you to a higher level of efficiency. As the saying goes, “If you want something done, give it to the busiest person!”

You won’t be able to take on everything, and remember that’s OKAY! Before getting overwhelmed about how much new work you’ll have added to your plate, write out all of the big projects, as well as their timelines and due dates. At the beginning of each week, take all these big projects, and map them out on a productivity quadrant and plan out your day based on the most important and urgent projects, rather than trying to tackle everything blindly. 

Take on more of a leadership position.

When someone leaves, the dynamics and the organization of the group shifts. This leaves room for you to step in and create more strategy and contribute to projects you may not have otherwise been privy to. This is a great time to showcase yourself and provide leadership, direction, and support for the people around you. 

During times of change, demonstrate your leadership by helping others ease through any transitions. Step up, and assume new responsibilities that will help keep your team afloat. 

Build new skills.

It naturally happens that members of the team will gravitate towards tasks that are easiest for them to execute and play towards their strengths. For example, I might have strong writing skills, while my colleague has strong design skills. When creating new workshops, I create the text and script while they handle the design. While this is more time-efficient, it doesn’t give me the opportunity to improve my design skills. However, when my colleague left the company, it forced me to take on some design work, and while the learning curve might have been steep, it gave me the opportunity learn and develop some new skills.

Use this time to create your own personal SWAT analysis, and think about which of your skills could be groomed during this time of transition. 

No matter how stressful this change may be for you and your team at first, there can always be a silver lining to be found. It’s sad to say goodbye to people you love to work with but be sure to show your enthusiasm for your colleague as they journey off to their new opportunity! 

Stacy Pollack is a human resources professional who helps employees, leaders, and organizations develop through innovative programs. She loves sharing insights on workplace development, career building, and networking for success. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at www.stacypollack.com

 

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