What to do when a star employee resigns

Your top commercial performer resigning could be the best thing that happens to your business that week.

A key resignation can be a daunting blow to a business leader. Here are some ideas for turning crisis to opportunity:

  • Revaluate the rest of your team. Sometimes its only when the big tree is gone that the little trees can grow. Take a fresh look at who in your team has the potential to step up and who could take on more.
  • Bear hug your clients. The fear is always that losing a star commercial performer puts your clients and revenue at risk. Take the chance to engage with their customers, keeping them informed as the business leader. Uncover their pain points and formulate ways to serve them even better.
  • Be pragmatic about getting feedback. Exit interviews are a valuable and underutilised tool. Your commercial star has resigned for reasons and you should want to know what they are. A (neutral) senior colleague will often get more honest feedback than a direct line manager.
  • Renew your focus on team morale. An unexpected departure can cause uncertainty. By communicating openly to the team and individually you ensure you are having those conversations to mitigate further unrest and build greater team spirit.
  • Evaluate and Adapt: Reflect on the departure as a learning experience. This might be a chance to address issues in your business model, compensation structure, or company culture.
  • Consider bringing in new blood. Replacing an established star performer is a great sell to ambitious commercial people. You have something tangible to offer and (hopefully) a decent budget. A new hire can bring something different and may even prove to be an upgrade.

Relationships matter in commercial shipping and a key person resigning presents a real challenge.

I’ve been there as I am sure most commercial leaders have to a degree. It will feel like a crisis. It asks uncomfortable questions and challenges assumptions.

But in every crisis lies an opportunity and there are many cases where an unexpected departure has been turned into a net gain. I’ve seen many cases where astute leaders turn this challenge to their advantage and the advantage of their business.


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