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underperforming or is not the right fit. When competition for talent is high, it’s tempting to give employees a second (or third or fourth!) chance. However, at some point, it becomes clear that it’s time to take action. It’s important to think the process through carefully and keep it confidential.

Why is discretion important?

The higher up the food chain an employee is stationed, the more important it is to keep it quiet until you have your ducks in a row. Losing a manager can make subordinates feel unstable and unsettled. Keeping a change of manager under wraps is in everyone’s best interest.

If employees lose a peer, they may wonder if they are next on the chopping block. Their performance and morale can suffer. They may even decide it’s time to look for a new position themselves. Naturally, it’s your best employees that will find a new position faster. You could lose top talent, just by letting your plans slip.

When any employee leaves, there is work that must be covered by someone. If your employee gets wind of your plans and leaves before you have time to replace them or cover their workload, you will be left scrambling.

By replacing an employee discreetly, you retain control of the message and can lay groundwork to reassure your team that it was a one-time occurrence that was in the best interest of the company and its employees.

How can you replace an employee discreetly when it’s time?

Document everything. Keep detailed data on the reasons for letting the employee go and any steps you may have taken to address the problem.

Keep it quiet. Don’t discuss your plans with anyone who doesn’t need to know about them. It takes very little for the rumor mill to begin churning.

Hold off on hiring. It can be challenging to launch a comprehensive search when you are trying not to let information leak. It may be uncomfortable to leave a position vacant and possibly work undone, but it may be the best strategy for all concerned.

Use an executive recruiting company. A trusted recruiting partner can conduct a search confidentially and if need be, completely off-site. They can blind-post your position or even skip posting the opening all together and rely on their own talent network to find the right person for you.

For more ideas on how to discreetly replace an employee, or to hire and retain better people, contact the executive search consultants at BrainWorks.


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