It can’t be helped. Sometimes good people leave to go work elsewhere. How does the truncated organization react?

It seems like often the organization doesn’t react at all. After the announcements have been sent, future email addresses exchanged, good wishes passed and last minute cleanups done, what to do?

To the organization just left behind, even if the impending loss is severe, this cannot be dwelled upon. For the sake of continuity, and preservation of collective self-esteem, the company must not go into shock. The job is now to minimize the negative effects, to continue as if nothing happened. Some places take this to attitude to the limit, and don’t announce departures at all, beyond those people who grudgingly take over the orphaned responsibilities. Sometimes they pretend that the person was never needed after all, not bothering to search for a replacement.

Consider if the person left because of perceived systemic problems, being a martyr of sorts. Except in extreme cases, those left behind won’t instantly focus blame on those problems. Most won’t have been aware of the details, and will feel insulted. Those who know of the details will likely be employees at the same level or below, so even if sympathetic, can’t possibly rouse a revolution. Those causing the problems may breathe a sigh of relief in losing a critic, and continue the status quo.

Consider instead if the person left not because of unhappiness here, but because of a better opportunity elsewhere. Those left behind may still resent it, unable to imagine a better place, or else just feel unconscious envy. And betrayed double-woe upon an ex-employee perceived as joining “the enemy”.

Are there more “enlightened” companies out there, ones that don’t behave naturally like spurned lovers?