Article: Need To Ensure A Graceful Exit For Employees

Employee Relations

Need To Ensure A Graceful Exit For Employees

Irrespective of the compulsions at hand, does it not make sense for organizations to ensure 'graceful exits'?
Need To Ensure A Graceful Exit For Employees

There is a general consensus that exit conversations help employers learn what they need to retain key employees


When a key employee decides to leave a company to pursue other goals or employment, it sets forth a chain of events


VVS Laxman, calling it quits, just before a test series in India, was the least expected. His exit raises a few questions on the lack of an exit plan – a gracious one at that, for our players.This has analogy in businesses too. Irrespective of the compulsions at hand, does it not make sense for organizations / employers to ensure ‘graceful exits’ for their players / employees…?

In his romantic comedy, As You Like It, Shakespeare via his character Jacques, makes a statement which none of us would deny, “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances…” Having to bid goodbye to friends, who have been around for years through thick and thin, is but a difficult proposition. But then, one must, at some point of one’s journey, bid adieu – and yes with grace. It is perhaps tough, but then there are numerous examples of how legends have hung their boots with dignity and grace. For instance, the graceful Hydeabadi VVS Laxman, known to have enthralled cricket fans all over the world with his aesthetic flicks and pristine timing, is a point in case. However, the timing of his retiring from international cricket coming just days before the India – New Zealand Test Series does raise a few questions on how the BCCI, the selection committee could have dealt with the entire episode with much more elegance. In India, cricket – a religion in its own right, has been witness to exits, a few of which commentators and alike would like to term unceremonious or ungracious. Likewise businesses too, for reasons best known to suit their business compulsions, have been known to hand over pink slips to their employees. The underlying question, be it business or cricket - can we ensure ‘graceful exit’. The answer in all probability would be yes; but are exit interviews or handing over a lifetime achievement award at a glittering ceremony, all that the employee or the sportsperson deserved? Perhaps this needs to be thought through.

Agreed, that 2012, for Indian Cricket Team is unlike what 1984 was for the Australian Team when three legends Greg Chappel, Dennis Lille and Rod Marsh retired from the game. But nevertheless, with Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman calling it quits in quick succession, the fundamentals of treatment (exit plan per se) being meted out to players, are being questioned. The questions being asked are – did they time their retirement before people could ask them the proverbial ‘why’ or were they compelled to take the decision in the interest of the team? These very same questions were raised when the southpaw Ganguly called it a day. It is now well known, that many a former players decided to quit (perhaps when there were few more cricketing years left in them) with dignity, even though in huff, and kept anguish to themselves. If at all, a player has to be axed, does it not call for minimum courtesy to have a discussion with the player and plan for a gracious exit and all the more does the selection committee have a contingency plan in place to replace the ‘old horse’.

The world of business, you could blame it on the sub-prime crisis and the prolonged after effects or mergers & acquisition, too provides ample fodder to ponder over. The decision by multinationals, for e.g. Motorola, to lay-off 20,000 employee is a point in case. Do organizations like Sony, Motorola and their ilks who have announced lay-offs, have in place processes to see to it that the laid off employees are able find suitable jobs, or are the severance packages enough to help them sustain? There are a number of self help guides as to what an employee should do to make his / her exit hassle free; it is time that employers too need to abide by some basic guidelines and figure out the reasons as to why employees are quitting. Is it because they have become old and are no more required, or have they been handed over the pink slip because of business dynamics or their below par performance. Was the decision to quit well timed or forced upon – e.g. Dr. P J Nayak or Renuka Ramanath quiting Axis Bank and ICICI Bank respectively (it is believed that the two quit for not being awarded the coveted post they deserved)? Apart from the knee-jerk reactions of offering counters and in the ultimate case inviting the concerned employee for an exit interview; do organizations have a systemic approach to deal with situations wherein there is an amicable parting of ways?

There is a general consensus that exit conversations help employers learn what they need to retain key employees. Isn’t this a costly proposition? Why is it that key employees step out of their spotlight when they are at the peak of their career – can ‘being left out of the larger frame of things’ be a reason of such decisions? Does this explain why people like Manisha Girotra, former India MD of UBS, quit the organization when in peak of their careers or is it their entrepreneurial spirit that justifies their decision. Or is it the feeling that one has done all that is possible and it is time to move out and make way for the next person to come in? The reasons, just like the causes, can be many. However, when a key employee decides to leave a company to pursue other goals or employment, it sets forth a chain of events that not only affects his or her life but also the business operations of the company that he or she is leaving. That is why it is critical for both employers and employees to make the exit process as smooth as possible.

Media reports suggest that, the elegant right-hander was particularly hurt by comments made by a former India skipper who raised questions about his usefulness to the Indian team, and thus took the emotional and sensitive decision to quit. Agreed, no one, be it an employee or a sportsperson, is indispensable. However, just like an employee / sportsperson must know when to bid adieu and leave people with great memories and pass on the crown to the next in line; so must employers / organizations have efficient processes in place to bid adieu to employees /sportsperson in a positive tone, gracefully and maintain the goodwill. It is time to decode the trick to ‘graceful exit.’


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Topics: Employee Relations, Life @ Work

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