Alik Chebotar


How to save a valuable specialist who decided to quit?

— “We need to talk”.

Approximately this is how 90% of all conversations about dismissal begin. No matter whoever started the conversation first, the result is usually predictable. What management should do if valuable person leaves the company?

Hold him tight

I heard the opinion, that an employee who already decided to leave the company, sooner or later will leave. I do not agree with this approach. Dismissal is a stress, so probably there are valuable reasons that pushed your employee to this decision. You must find out about the reasons and try to help your employee. There are practically no unsolvable situations, if a person is really valuable to the team, it is worth trying to keep him. And it is not always about the money. Switching to new tasks can affect the earlier decision. What about his former responsibilities? Who will do his work? I think this is less critical. 
If a valuable specialist leaves you, you still have to somehow distribute his tasks and, most likely, sooner or later, he will seek a replacement. 
Important to understand — a valuable professional is a “walking database” of knowledge, traditions, authority and leader of opinions. It’s like losing a finger on the arm or leg, you can live, but the functionality is reduced.

Talk to people

What do people regret about on their deathbed? 
By the stories of people who were on the verge of life and death, unfulfilled working tasks are somewhere far away at the end of the list. Most of all people complained about the lack of time for communication with family and friends. It is in your power to avoid this. Talk to people.

You will be surprised how often the reason for dismissal is a lack of a positive assessment of the work from the direct manager. People want to feel their importance.


Let’s assume that your efforts left without result and your employee is decided to quit anyway. Break up nicely, do not burn bridges. Dismissal is far from the end of your teamwork. 
It is necessary to get the maximum feedback from the outgoing specialist. What did he like about the job? What did he don’t like? What would he change? Who does he see in his place and why? He is ready in this situation to share his experience and knowledge. 
Use this information carefully. Think about those who stayed with you. It is worth to consider the redefinition of areas of responsibility between team members. Probably the load will increase. You need to prepare people.

I have heard the opinion: “if he quit — you can’t take him back”. This is nonsense and stupidity. 
Steve Jobs was fired with a scandal from his own company and triumphantly returned in a few years. Do not just wait them back, but also prepare the soil for this. If a truly valuable employee leaves the company, you must assure him that you will always be happy to resume cooperation.

Keep talented people in your company. Sometimes through overcoming your own pride, through communication and support. Be wiser. Try to make the life of employees comfortable and happy. After all, a programmer is kind of an artist. A happy person is able to create masterpieces.

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