It’s hard to be the one left behind. Whether it’s your office bestie, your work spouse, or just a colleague whose good work makes your life easier, it can be difficult to lose a great coworker. But it can also be hard to lose a not-so-great coworker, especially if their departure means their work is going to land squarely on your plate.
Regardless of how upset you may be, professionalism should reign supreme when a coworker quits. How do you navigate a colleague’s departure without causing any personal drama? Here are a few tips:
1. Offer Congratulations
When a coworker resigns, it can feel personal, especially if you are close with the person leaving. It’s okay to have feelings about losing a work friend or be worried about how a their departure might impact your day-to-day workload, but do your best to keep these concerns to yourself.
The best thing you can do when a coworker announces that they’ve given their notice is to offer up the sincerest congratulations you can muster. In all likelihood, your coworker is gaining something by leaving the company — more money, a better title, or a job at a dream employer. These are all great reasons for a person to leave, and they should be celebrated.
Occasionally, a coworker may quit for other reasons, like to travel or to deal with a personal situation. In those cases, too, congratulations are in order. It takes a lot of nerve to resign from a job without another job lined up, and encouragement from friends and colleagues can help a person feel more confident about their decision.
2. Avoid Office Gossip
Office gossip can run rampant when someone resigns, especially if the reason for a colleague’s departure is unclear. Don’t join in the conversation. Instead, stay above the fray and concentrate on your own next steps.
3. Set a Meeting to Start the Handover Process
If the person leaving is a team member, a superior, or a subordinate — in other words, if their role at the company is at all related to yours — it’s a great idea to set up a meeting or a series of meetings to discuss how projects will be handled when they leave.
Having a formal handoff discussion when a coworker quits the company will help you get a handle on their current projects and deadlines, get status reports, and figure out how to distribute the work once they are gone.
4. Set up a Celebratory Lunch or Happy Hour
You may not feel like kicking up your heels when a coworker quits the company, but they probably do. Help them celebrate their new opportunity by offering to organize a happy hour or a lunch.
Depending on the size of your company, you might invite everyone or just the person’s close work friends and team members. If your company isn’t footing the bill for the outing, be sure to choose a restaurant or bar that is moderately priced and will accommodate the dietary needs of everyone attending. If you have a vegetarian coming to the luncheon, it’s best not to choose a steakhouse.
5. Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation — and Offer to Write One as Well
Parting is such sweet sorrow, but also the perfect time to add another recommendation to your LinkedIn profile. It isn’t too opportunistic to seize the day and ask a departing colleague to write a quick recommendation for you. Your work is fresh in their mind; ask them to reflect on it before they’re out the door and on to their next adventure.