Marketing Job Recruiters on Handling a Resignation from a Key Employee
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It’s Tuesday morning. You’re sipping the day’s first cup of coffee and scrolling through the emails that piled up through the night when a key member of your marketing team appears in the doorway of your office. You invite them in.

They take a seat, then break the news; in two weeks they’ll be leaving for a new job.

What do you do?

Don’t Panic

The departure of an important member of the marketing team is a stressful event. But it has probably happened before, and it will undoubtedly happen again.

Unfortunately as marketing job recruiters, we too often see a manager or business leader respond negatively to news of a departure.

The worst thing you can do at this point is say or do something you’ll regret later. Don’t react emotionally if your immediate thoughts are anything other than excitement and congratulations. Hopefully you don’t feel any resentment or spite over the news. But if you do, keep it buttoned up.

This person might have been important to your future plans for the business or a mission-critical campaign that just launched. Perhaps they’re a long-tenured leader your company has relied on for years that could only be replaced by a senior marketing executive search.

You might even consider them a good friend.

But keep in mind above all that this is not a personal slight against you or your organization. Behave accordingly. After all, you never know what the future holds. You might end up working with this individual again in the future.

Act With Urgency

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Don’t drag your feet once you’ve been alerted of a resignation. Two weeks should be plenty of time to transition your team member out. But you don’t exactly have a lot of wiggle room, either.

Your company almost certainly has a general established system for the processing of a resignation. Contact your HR team and initiate the applicable corporate processes.

Work with the departing employee to break the news to the rest of the department quickly and professionally. Don’t wait or try to hide the news–your team needs as much time as possible to say their goodbyes and get the necessary information for a smooth transition.

Perhaps most importantly, you need to start planning how you’ll fill that vacant seat. Will you hire a replacement? Promote the next person in line? Take the opportunity to restructure the team and try something new?

Whatever you decide, you need to figure out your plan quickly. Remember, every passing day without a key member of your team present is a day of lost potential ROI. And a departure means the rest of your team is stuck picking up the slack until you can fill the gap.

Enact Your Succession Plan

Your marketer probably had some essential responsibilities and knowledge that your organization can’t afford to lose. Begin the process of distributing tasks and expertise to the rest of your team and documenting the procedures and strategies your departing employee managed.

A transition plan for a marketing professional will have to vary depending on the nature of their role. For advice on developing one for your situation, reference these resources:

Resist the Counteroffer Urge

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When a beloved or important team member tells you they’re leaving, you might feel a strong temptation to try and convince them to stay.

This often comes in the form of a counteroffer–typically a promise for better marketing executive salary and benefits.

In essence, it’s a bribe.

It’s also a bad bet for both you and the employee; 86% of workers that accept a counteroffer end up leaving within a year anyway–and in that case, the parting of ways is usually far more messy. In our years as marketing job recruiters, we’ve almost never seen a counteroffer work out.

If the person was really that important and valuable to your organization, then it shouldn’t have taken the threat of them leaving for you to start offering competitive compensation and perks.

In fact, now might be a good time to re-evaluate how you’re compensating and motivating your other key players. The departure of one top marketer could inspire others to consider new opportunities as well. Pay standards for high-performing digital and marketing professionals can fluctuate widely, and if you’re not keeping up you can’t expect to retain the best talent.

Start Your Replacement Process with Marketing Recruiters

An empty seat in your marketing department comes with a lot of costs. It means lost expertise, lost execution capacity, and greater strain on your remaining team.

But it also comes with opportunity. A good replacement could be an important injection of new ideas, perspective and talent that can transform your marketing. Or if you fill the vacancy with a promotion from within, you could be tapping into the unleashed potential of an amazing internal talent resource.

So move with urgency, but take the time needed to make a smart decision. Alert your marketing job recruiters as quickly as possible so they can get started scouring the talent market for the best candidates. Or if the position was an important leadership role, engage a senior marketing executive search partner.

More Advice from Senior Marketing Executive Search Specialists