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Losing a team member is a huge concern for any team. It’s time-consuming, difficult and expensive, unless you have the proper systems and protocols to deal with it.

In this article, I’ll outline the three things you need to have your finger on the pulse of to maintain a successful team — even if a member leaves. Here are a few ways to prepare your business for any obstacle, what to look for when a team member is about to leave and what to do when that actually happens.

1. How to prepare

Whatever the situation is — whether a team member leaves, gets sick or is let go — process documentations can be a saving grace for your business. For each role in your business, you need to have a process document.

It should:

  • Outline the exact steps that are necessary in completing the tasks and processes from start to finish. Have a team member who practices the process the most write up this document. 
  • Begin with the overview of the project. Make sure to include a summary, purpose and the roles that are involved.
  • Next, write down the steps of the process. For each step, make sure to include a summary, the resources needed and a checklist. 
  • You can house these resources in your team’s Google Drive and organize it by department or role.

When you implement your process documentations, you’ll see that other team members who take on these roles will eventually find ways to improve the procedure with a fresh perspective.

Process documentation will also help your team members in finding a shift in their mindset to produce consistent and desired results. They also provide context to your team, allowing them to see how all of their projects coexist and fit together — to see the big picture of what they’re working toward. 

By creating these documents with your team’s help and input, you will be prepared for an unexpected exit and help the team stay consistent with all of the processes in your business.

2. What to look for

If you have a feeling that one of your team members is looking to leave the team, you might be right. Typically, we can feel when something is off in the team dynamic. If that’s how you feel, don’t shrug it off. Instead, dig a little deeper to ensure you’re as proactive as you can be. 

One of the most obvious signs of team members preparing to leave is when they become apathetic toward their jobs. They might not even mean to show it.

Have they started to dodge your calls? Do they seem uninterested or absent in meetings? Do they lack initiative when it comes to current and new projects? These are signs that they may be uninterested in their work with the team.

This can easily be explained by them feeling unhappy and unsatisfied with their job, so they might find it hard to accomplish their work and deal with calls and meetings. What’s more, their production and productivity levels may drop off completely.

Another common sign is when your top producers or team rock stars end their success streaks. Instead of acting completely uninterested in their job, they will still complete tasks and contribute to the team, but they might stop going above and beyond what’s required of them.

3. What to do

The first step you must initiate is a formal or informal meeting with the agents. Whether they’re leaving or not, you need to have a conversation with them. Use this as an opportunity to learn why they are looking to leave the team.

If you really want the member to stay, you can use this conversation to give you insight into where they’re feeling insecure when it comes to their work. By noticing the behaviors explained above, you can help your team members grow and thrive with the business.

Sometimes, you will be unable to convince the employee to stay and grow with the company. In this case, I have a list of the key things you can do to protect the team member, your colleagues and the company.

  • Get all intellectual and confidential team property back off their computer or restrict their access. Review the aspects of the contract relating to this with them (database access, email access, presentations, scripts, etc.)
  • Need a notice of resignation for the brokerage and the team (depending on what policy is established with the brokerage).
  • Get feedback. Reflect as a leader and as a business owner. The struggles and mistakes made when a member leaves the team often create valuable lessons leading to improvements with future members. 
  • Let the team know that you don’t want clients to complain or request to work with the departing agent. If this happens, the agent should call and deal with it directly with the team leader. This is to prevent the departing agent from “instructing” the client.
  • Contact all existing, past clients and conditional clients with that agent personally as soon as possible. This will prevent the above. Also, have the agent taking over any active contracts set pop-bys to meet and touch base with those clients to assess where they are at with the buying or selling process.

At the end of the day, the best-case scenario in this type of situation is to make a compromise and choose to win together. But it’s never a bad idea to be prepared, to know what an antsy team member acts like and how to have an exit strategy.

Sometimes, you’ll both need to go your separate ways to benefit yourselves, the team and the business.

Kathleen Black is the CEO of Kathleen Black Coaching and Consulting in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Connect with her on Instagram at @kathleenblackcoaching or through her website ItTakesa.Team.

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