Consult Recruitment NZ > Hiring  > I Quit! Handling A Resignation In Your Team

I Quit! Handling A Resignation In Your Team

If you manage people, here’s a scene you’ll recognise and dread. 

The email: ‘Can we have a quick catch up in the meeting room?’  The nervous smile as you both sit down. The opening line: ‘I want to start by saying I’ve really enjoyed working here’.

Losing a valued team member is upsetting, and can often feel quite personal.  But even if a resignation has you grinning like a maniac (on the inside, I hope), the four weeks after a resignation is generally not a fun time. The good news is there are some basic things you can do to make sure the notice period is as painless as possible.


The way your employee resigns – the reasons they give, their approach to managing the transition, their general attitude – will give you the best steer on how to handle the next four weeks. For instance, it will tell you whether you’re happy for her to break the news to the rest of the staff herself, or whether it’d be a better idea for you to call a quick team meeting first to set the scene.


People nearly always leave because of the leadership, and if you don’t make an honest effort to get to the bottom of why your employee is leaving, you’re missing an invaluable opportunity to improve the way you operate. Even if your company has a formal exit interview process in place, let your employee know you’d really appreciate some honest feedback from them, and make a time before they finish for a dedicated one-on-one meeting. If she doesn’t have much to say, keep prompting, and keep listening. As difficult as it may be, don’t get defensive, and resist the urge to justify or explain.


Find out what outstanding tasks they have going on and agree on a timeline to get them finished. Get them to list everything they do, and get their colleagues to check this over for any gaps. Figure out what they know that no-one else does, and work out a plan to either get this documented or train someone else (preferably both).   


Take a critical look at your team structure.  Do you need to hire a direct replacement? Or perhaps it’s a good time for a shake up? Figure out what replacement you do need, get your job description polished up, and have a good think about what criteria really matter in your ideal candidate. Then get onto the next step, pronto…


Assuming you want the best possible person for your team, you won’t want to limit yourself to the small pool of candidates who are available immediately. This means you’ll have to allow for a four week notice period. Add to that the three weeks or so (hopefully less, possibly much more) it will take to source, interview and hire the right person, and you’re looking at a minimum of three weeks with no one in the seat. Be honest with yourself – does your team have the capacity and the skill set to handle the extra workload, or do you need to get some temporary resource? 


In this era of hyper-connectedness, even past employees can have a significant impact on your brand.  So keep things positive. Whether it’s cake in the staffroom or beers at the local, a proper farewell sends the right message to the person leaving, as well as the remaining staff. Thank them again for their contribution, offer to act as a referee, and encourage them to keep in touch.  You never know when your paths might cross again. 

Resignations are never fun but unfortunately and inevitable part of being a leader! If you’re struggling to replace someone who has recently resigned in your accounting, banking or financial services team get in touch with our team today. 

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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