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Picking a departing colleague’s brain

Gain opportunities to learn before they leave

by on
in Office Management,Office Organizer

When you learn that a co-worker’s leaving your organization, don’t just shake hands and wish them well. Take them to lunch.

Employees who quit have less to lose by opening up to you. They may reveal the inner workings of their departments or let you in on some “secrets” about what they’ve observed in their jobs. Steer the conversation to these areas:

Your role. Departing colleagues may shed some light on how you’re perceived by your peers and bosses. Ideally, you want them to pass along any comments they’ve heard about your personality and/or work product. Example: A manager met with a co-worker who was moving out of town. To her amazement, the manager learned that she was viewed by the head honcho as too timid to earn a promotion. Her co-worker even showed her a confidential memo in which the president expressed doubts about her behavior.

The company’s future. Departing coworkers can relay scuttlebutt about upcoming changes in your organization, such as office relocation or downsizing. Ask, “If you were staying here another year, what do you predict would happen with this company?”

Technical skills. Absorb whatever knowledge you can from any specialists who are leaving. Pay attention to any tips or insights they offer on how to streamline procedures to work more efficiently.

Their plans. Obviously, you don’t want the conversation to revolve solely around you and your employer. Show genuine interest in your colleagues’ plans. Offer to help them with moving or suggest other assistance you can provide. Even if you weren’t good friends while you worked together, you can establish bonds that can benefit both of you in the long run.

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