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The Great Resignation: Leaders Pay Attention

What a challenging time it is for leaders in the middle of “the great resignation.” Many reasons prompt people to look for new paths, and this creates a challenging environment for leaders who are trying to hold it all together. It is one thing to read about it, but it becomes very real when I hear the personal impact from clients, friends, and family in leadership roles. For leaders experiencing turnover in their teams, here are some things to pay attention to:

1. Take care of yourself.

You only have so much to give. The more you recharge, the more energy you will have to support others. Spending 12-hour days working or worrying about work is not a sustainable model. Your mental capacity takes a hit. You may not even recognize it happening. You just keep going through the grind while other parts of your life take a backseat.

At times like this, it is important to be intentional about recharging your batteries. The obvious things like exercise, nutrition, and sleep should be a staple of your week. Yet, it is often when we don’t have the energy to exercise, the time to eat well, and the focus to get a good night’s rest that we need it the most. It can be a vicious cycle. Be careful to not let these necessities slip.

Find daily moments to leave the office, get away from the computer, go for a walk, meditate, or sit in silence for 3 to 5 minutes. Whatever can bring your perspective through the craziness is critical. Vacations, short getaways, extended weekends, and integrating fun activities with people who are important to you is important, too. Do not put these things on the back burner or reschedule. You need these mental health breaks now more than ever.

2. Prioritize the next 31 days.

Being short-staffed is an opportunity to get really clear on what is important. Let’s be real. A lot of things can wait or are not that critical. Now is the time to be clear and focused. Prioritize. You need this and your team craves this, too. Consider what is important for the short term. What are the priorities for the next 31 days? Document your customer, team, and personal priorities. Share this list with your team on an ongoing basis. Focus energy on the actions that will give you, your team, and your business the greatest lift in the here and now.

3. Pay attention to those who remain.

With the work redistributed, the team members who remain are often the ones who pick up the slack. There is a lot to attend to, but do not overlook the additive efforts being absorbed when you have turnover. Appreciation, understanding, and acknowledgment go a long way. Make sure you are checking in regularly, saying thank you often, and acknowledging the extra load your team is carrying.

One of your core priorities should be frequent interactions and touchpoints with your remaining team members. When leaders have turnover, the remaining team members feel a lot of emotions. Sadness, frustration, and anger are very common. Make sure you are holding the space for team members to vent and share their feelings. Communication with your team should be a top priority for you as the leader.

4. Learn from those who have left (or who may leave).

When a team member resigns, it is not uncommon for leaders to feel resentment, anger, defensiveness, apathy, or guilt.  As natural as those emotions may be, remember you are the leader, and it is important to set the example. Keep your emotions in check and be careful they do not set the tone for the rest of your team.

It takes a strong leader to consider what they can learn from employee turnover.  Understanding why an employee leaves an organization is important. It is often easy to rationalize team members that leave for greater pay, flexibility, or career growth. Even if those are the primary reasons, consider what you could have done to retain them. Is there anything you can do differently in the future to make things better for the employees that remain? Great leaders are honest with themselves, learn from these situations, and seize the opportunity to create a brighter future.

5. Remember, you have a really important job.

Do you recall the moment in The Lion King when Simba looks into the reflecting pool and hears Mufasa’s voice saying, “Remember who you are”? This is the same message for leaders during this time of change and chaos. We need bold, strong, wise, and caring leaders. It is a difficult challenge but one to rise to because of its importance. Leaders need to dig deep, but they don’t have to do it alone. Leaders need to help each other through the multitude of challenges right now.

Remember, download the ithrive31 leaders’ priorities form to help you focus on your critical needs right now.

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