How to handle unexpected resignations

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It happens to every dealership manager at some point. Everything is travelling along smoothly, then seemingly out of nowhere, a crucially important team member springs an unexpected resignation on you.
 
Whether it’s a mechanic, a sales consultant, or a parts interpreter, when you’ve come to rely on a staff member to be there each day, the thought of managing everything without them can seem like an impossible task; but rest assured, there are plenty of things you can do to minimise the impact a departing employee has on your dealership and keep everything running smoothly.
 
Here are some helpful tips for handling an unexpected resignation in your dealership.

Find out what’s behind their decision to leave

Even though a resignation might seem to have come out of nowhere, there’s always a reason behind it.
 
It could be a personal reason like relocating for a partner’s work, or it could be to pursue a completely new career direction. In some cases, it might be something a little closer to home, like an issue or grievance the employee has with the dealership, another employee, or their working conditions.
 
Whatever the reason, it’s important to ask the employee for some insight as to what motivated their decision to leave, so you can use it as a learning opportunity to address any underlying issues and prevent other good employees from leaving.

Reassure the rest of the team & establish an interim management plan

The departure of a key staff member can be unsettling for other employees who have either built a strong relationship with them or have come to depend on them.
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Taking the time to acknowledge the impact the departure will have on the business and other employees is important, as it demonstrates that you’re aware of the additional pressure it may put on the rest of the team.
 
Creating a clear interim plan for how the additional workload will be distributed until a suitable replacement can be found will also reassure employees that any extra pressure will only be temporary, which may also prevent other employees from also wanting to leave.

Negotiate a hand-over period

Most employees will be required to provide notice of their resignation in line with the notice period specified in their employment contract, so unless there is good reason to end the employment then and there, the outgoing employee will likely still be around for a couple of weeks.
 
Make the most of this period by negotiating a hand-over period where the outgoing staff member can provide role-specific training to one or more other employees to retain some of their intellectual property within the dealership and minimise the impact on productivity.

View it as an opportunity to reassign responsibilities

Some dealerships could benefit from a good shake-up, and an unexpected resignation could be the thing that instigates the winds of change.
 
Rather than simply looking to replace the outgoing staff member, view it as an opportunity to review, reassess, and potentially reassign the current distribution of work and responsibilities among other employees.
 
Take the time to speak with other employees to find out how they feel about the scope of their current role and responsibilities and see if there might be a better way to structure some teams and tasks. In many cases, there may be a much smarter solution that you otherwise may never have thought of!

Establish a hiring plan

Once you have a clear understanding of what you want the dealership to look like and how you want to distribute responsibilities, you’ll need to establish a hiring plan to fill any gaps.
 
Consider what qualities you want in a replacement, where you’re most likely going to find them, and how you’ll make the role as appealing as possible. Read our Rules of attraction blog post for some helpful tips on how to attract the best candidates to your dealership.

Stay focused on the big picture

Finally, remember not to lose sight of the big picture—while losing a key employee may feel like a devastating blow, the impact will usually only be felt in the short-term.
 
Once you’ve managed to find a suitable replacement and given them adequate time to settle into the role, you’ll most likely find that it doesn’t take long for things to find a new rhythm. With a little patience and careful planning, your dealership will be back to business as usual before you know it.
 
Teamrecruit is Australia’s most established recruitment agency specialising in truck, earthmoving and agricultural machinery dealerships in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Find out more about Teamrecruit and how we support employers and candidates in the dealership industry.

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