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Losing an Employee: FindLaw's Real Ideas for Making It Through

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 11, 2015 7:01 AM

Small business owners, school principals, circus ring masters, heck -- anyone who manages people will understand this statement: Losing a great employee sucks. Just when you have someone who does solid work and who you and your team rely on -- poof. They're gone as soon as they say, "Hey boss, can I talk to you for a second?"


I really don't want to talk to anyone when they say that because I know what's coming.

And then the real work begins. The knowledge transfer, the interview and hiring process, the on-boarding, the training, then finally, months later, the new gal (or guy) is up to speed. It's a long haul, and every step has legal as well as business implications. In this From the Managing Editor blog post, let's walk through some of the issues. It might make us all feel better.

You Don't Say! The Interview

The interview is the beginning of the long road to replacing that valued team member. When interviewing, it is best to focus on asking candidates behavioral questions. Not only will you steer clear of any potentially discriminatory questions, but behavioral questions have a better track record of actually indicating the chance of success in a given position or situation. For example:

Bad: "So, you just got married. Do you think you will have kids soon?"

Good: "Tell me about a time you missed a deadline. What did you do and what did you learn from the experience?"

Interviews require you to keep off the legal rocks, find someone suited to the job, and oh yes, hire someone you want to actually talk to for eight hours a day for the next two to five years. No problem.

On-Boarding and Training: Yes HR. Whatever You Say, HR.

You actually found someone you want to hire and she said yes. It's worse than dating, right? Now you have to get that person in office, trained up, and ready to go. Depending on the complexity of the job, the training can take anywhere from an afternoon to months.

Keep what your beloved HR department tells you in mind here. Make sure your new person is trained not only in the specifics of the job, but in all the company policies that are so important, especially for those who manage other people. Make sure you have training in:

  • Sexual harassment and anti-discrimination policies;
  • Social media policies (one bad tweet can get you fired these days);
  • Intellectual property and cybersecurity;
  • Workplace safety (everything from workers comp to security); and
  • Payroll, benefits, and leave.

Each of these issues carries a heavy legal toll if ignored or mishandled. You need consistency in how you treat your people -- that makes for the happiest, legalest (not a word? well it is now) and most productive workplace.

Getting Up to Speed: Sisyphus Does It Again

Well, you have your new person in, and she is trained and ready to be unleashed on the masses. Here is where some of the legal requirements take a backseat, and you have to be a great business person. For instance, is your new person adjusting to not only the work, but the company culture? Every company from a three-person law firm to Walmart has a culture. Is it an open-door, ask lots of questions, and call the VP "Steve" kind of culture? Make sure the new staffer knows this, and supports it. Maybe you are trying to change your culture. Can your new person help you do this?

Is the newest part of your team pushing you forward? This is one of the only good things about losing people you like and having to replace them. You have a chance to start fresh and push your business in a new direction. Is your new managing partner the only one in the firm with a bio-science degree? Great, hit up new clients in the life sciences sector. Is your new team member the only one with a family recipe for scones when all you ever sold is chocolate chip cookies? How about adding some more tables to your bakery and serving tea every weekday at 3 p.m.? With new people come new opportunities.

The End; The Beginning

This post was inspired because here at, we are losing one of our favorite people: Blogs Team Lead and Editor, Andrew Chow. Andrew has helped make our blog team what it is today, a place millions of visitors come each year for legal news, ideas, resources, and laughs. This is an end for us, but also a beginning for us, and for Andrew, in his new endeavors.

He is so valued here and will be so missed.

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