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Amicable Departures

The hosts of the Today Show are scheduled to be leaving, with the network fearful about losing ad revenue because of the popularity of Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer.  Charlie Sheen’s departure from Two and a Half Men is expected to cost CBS millions.

Your executives may not be show business celebrities, but how important are they to your business? And how would your customers react if you lost a key VP?  Conversely, if one of your executives were performing poorly, but left on bad terms, what response might that generate?

One of our clients recently replaced a team of husband/wife founders who were very emotional and made all sorts of noise about leaving, but ultimately saw the wisdom of not hurting their “child”.

When the departure of a key employee takes place, companies must make that happen peacefully and smoothly.  This reflects well on your company, and because it may be visible to your customers, may be critically important to your PR efforts.

Key executives should be given a few weeks to transition their work to others.  Walking someone to the door is only needed when they are going to a direct competitor.

Avoiding counter-offers helps to temper emotional responses on both sides.  Issuing jointly prepared statements ensures consistency and the best possible “spin”.  If time permits, making joint calls on customers before the departure can calm customer nerves and reassure them that they will not suffer any diminishment of support.

We are advocates of open communication on this subject.  For example, when we do a replacement search, we advise our client to let the incumbent know, and negotiate an orderly departure with a mutual release of liability.