Loyalty on the Job: What if a Coworker Quits?

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Posted by The Editors on November 11, 2011
Loyalty on the Job: What if a Coworker Quits?

Career experts have it right: Office friendships—both the real kind and the virtual kind—are tricky. Today I’m thinking of another kind of office relationship, maybe the trickiest of all: Someone you couldn’t do your job without. Think of someone who, if they left, you’d just have to follow them out the door.

I thought about this when Eddie Murphy ditched his post as 2012 Academy Awards host after his friend Brett Ratner resigned as co-producer. The Oscars were supposed to be Murphy’s reentry into superstardom, but in solidarity with a director whom he’d liked and trusted (and one who used language not suitable in any workplace), he walked away from a big-time job.

Whether the person who’s leaving hired you, trained you, or acted as a mentor, it’s never easy to adjust to the absence of a familiar face and presence. I can’t claim to know what went through Eddie Murphy’s mind when he heard that Ratner bailed, but I know how I’d react if a vital coworker decided to move on.

Pick Up the Slack
People may leave, but work goes on. Think about this: Will your department be reorganized? How will this affect your workload long term and short term? Can you take on any of their duties?

Tread Carefully
It’s possible that there’s been some violation of rules that has led to your coworker leaving the company. Try not to make waves in the days that follow. People might want to discuss the situation, but you have to be mindful of the people involved in the decision to leave.

Don’t Burn Bridges
Stay in touch with the departed coworker, whether it’s by phone, personal email, or Facebook. You might want them to talk about why they left or to look into a position for you at their new company, but the first thing you tell them should be that you’ll miss them and that you wish them well.

Remember that Life Goes On
Although you may not be able to picture continuing to work without your colleague, remember that you still have your job and you need to continue to fulfill your duties. You never know, things may turn out for the better; You may pick up some new responsibilities, have an opportunity to move into a new role, or even recruit some new team members.

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