The long and the short of it

One of my team leaves today.  I will admit to contradictory feelings.

On one hand I am, perhaps selfishly, a little sad.  Sad because she is smart, funny, and I have learnt much from her.  But on the other hand I am genuinely pleased and excited for her and her new opportunity.

When someone hands in their notice, especially if they are one of your star performers, there is often a temptation to encourage them to stay.  Perhaps to make a counter offer, sometimes of the financial variety.  It is a temptation that should usually be resisted.  The statistics will tell you that even if the person does decide to stay, a year or so down the road they will be gone all the same.  Because something caused them to look up and look out, and it probably isn’t just about the money.

Most companies recognise and appreciate long service. Certificates are given, awards are made.  Long service is often seen as desirable.  Hiring managers in particular often express concern about candidates who have moved around a little in their career history, favouring those with longer tenures.

I know that some people are not too keen on the long service award.  They see them as rewarding presence over contribution.  Of course that can be true, but not always or even often in my experience.  My own Father spent 45 years with one organisation, a whole lifetime of dedication.  For me, there is something special about working with people for a long time; a level of relationship that develops from shared experiences, shared challenges, shared lunch breaks and team nights out.  I still miss some of my old team for just that reason.  From long service too can come shared history, deep understanding, real commitment.

Most of the time we want to retain our people, and when they leave we seek to understand the reasons why.  Short tenure is sometimes seen as a cause for concern.  Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t.  Sometimes it is about a problem in the recruitment process, a poor joining experience or simply a mismatch between individual and organisation.  But sometimes it is simply about people moving on to a new opportunity that fits their personal definition of better, and our changing ideas about the nature of work and what we each want from it too.

For all of the talk about the need to retain your top talent, sometimes it is just as important to let it go, with all of your very best wishes.  As a leader, it is your responsibility to develop the people who work for you and with you.   Sometimes this also means that they will move on to someplace else.  Such is life.

So when people leave, let us understand why, and then wish them well with positive intent.  Buy them a gift, have a cake or two.  Celebrate their time with you, whether it was long and loyal or short and sweet.


I do not usually blog about current events or people from my workplace.  I want people that I work with to be confident that they will not appear in my musings.  I break this rule today with the permission of the individual who inspired the post.  Normal service is now resumed.

6 thoughts on “The long and the short of it

  1. This is such a timely post for me. Today is my last day at my employers, I start a new job on Monday. The cake consumption has begun……

  2. What a lovely piece Gemma, thank you for sharing (and the individual allowing you too). I had a conversation with a manager yesterday who is losing a valued member of their team, they felt the same. Leaving them with a positive experience of their time with you and sending them on the way with good wishes, can also be fantastic advocacy for the organisation, as well as leaving the staff members with a positive view.

  3. Like. Also maybe consider asking them to come back one day into a different position with their new experience. It shows how much you value them and, who knows, they might do just that if it’s right for you and for them (maybe even into your job?)

  4. It’s fabulous that people gel, bond and stay with each other for a long haul. Having worked in the public and not-for-profit sectors, I would have had several hundred pounds if I had a penny for every time I heard the phrase “…of course it’s the people I work with that make it worthwhile/me stay.”

    Support for each other, caring and sharing is a thing in short supply in the modern, moveable and mega-fast way of working “these days”.

    I’m a fan of people. I’m a lover of new things. I relish working with, caring about and benefiting from other people. I’m realistic and know how life moves on though: people change, things happen. We assemble and disassemble (perhaps ,”these days”, too readily?)

    Families, teams, clans, clubs whatever – we gather. We relate. We form bonds.

    What this post so sweetly reminds us of is about making the most of the people you have with you now. For when they’ve moved on, or you have moved on, it’ll all fade away.

    Cherish people. Even if you don’t really enjoy working with them THAT much. Find what you do regard and remember that. What did they stand for? What did you? How did they help you? How did you help them?

    Very nice post Gemma. I love your writing. I love the way you go from “up there” to “in here” type writing.

    If I’ve not told you lately, you’re one of the best people I’ve NEVER had on a team. Thanks for all you do for me and others.

  5. Pingback: Best Blogs 17 Avril 2015 | ChristopherinHR

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