Strategies & Tips

What To Do When Your Star Employees Quit

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Fortune | Hank Gilman

The day your best employee comes in with the news that they're moving on is the day you start recruiting them again. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

While you might have a bigger paycheck and you might have a special feeling inside now that you have a staff of your own, the gripes, hiring, and firing responsibilities are also all yours. Welcome to management. In You Can't Fire Everyone, Fortune deputy managing editor Hank Gilman lays out some of the most critical challenges managers face today, drawing from his decades of experience on the front lines.

The following excerpt addresses the unfortunate, inevitable day when your talented employees decide to leave. This excerpt also marks the official launch of You Can't Fire Everyone (sound familiar?), a series that will open our site to reader contributions on their triumphs and trials in the working world. Tune in next week for tales on firing and being fired.

I know this will come as a shocker — well, to some of you — but eventually new and/or better jobs will come along for your more talented people. Or eventually they'll just get tired of what they're doing (and of you) and will want to experience something else. Or sometimes a job offer will come along and your star won't know whether they want to leave or not. But if and when a star decides to leave, you just have to understand and hope that someday they'll return. And you know what? It does happen. And a lot of it depends on how you act when they leave.

Now, some bosses will hold grudges. Pretty much like a scorned husband or wife. There's one story of a publisher I'll leave unnamed, that will not hire you back if you leave. It's a breakup pure and simple. (My boss kind of feels that way. Jeez, you should see his face when someone leaves. But he always lets them return!) But I like to look at it a different way. The day your best employee comes in with the news that they're moving on is the day you start recruiting them again. A few things to keep in mind:

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