Business,  Career Advice

How You Can Deal With Team Attrition

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Anonymous

But what if team members want to move on? How can you do so much?

Oh, I’ve been there.

That time when a team member walks slowly into my office with a single paper on hand.

That look of “Oh, this is it.”

Oh, yes. That exact look.

It’s tough when team members want to leave. I think of this quote every time a team member of mine sends in their notice – “Employees leave bosses, not the company.”

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5 Ways to cope with turnovers within the team
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I can’t help but feel ownership towards people leaving the organization.

But, moving from one company to another is a fact of work life. People leave. People stay. It’s an endless cycle.

So, how do you cope with this? How do you prepare for it? It’s inevitable. Might as well prepare yourself and your team for this change as this not only affects you but the team as well.  

Here are Career Tips to handle attrition within the team.

1. Accept the notice

Regardless if you feel bad or enthusiastic about it (oh, I’ve had those too), genuinely accept the notice. Don’t be bitter. Just accept it wholeheartedly.

It will probably hurt especially for the ones that you’ve done so much but know that it’s a personal decision. And the best thing we can do for our team is to respect their decision to move on. They probably took weeks or months to arrive to this moment.

Recognize that it’s not easy and it’s a big decision.

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2. Be grateful for their contribution

Oftentimes, managers tend to be resentful when they start to realize that their team members want to move on. And on the day that the notice is received, the resentment grows to a whole new level altogether.

Don’t be resentful.

Remember that this same team member who spent hours with you to get the job done. Show appreciation and respect to your team member’s contribution.

Be grateful that you had the opportunity to work alongside them. They have learned from you and that experience alone is priceless.

3. Truly understand their reasons for leaving

Finding out the real reason why your team member wants to move on may be tough. If you have a good relationship with the team member, then finding out the real reason will be a lot easier. But if you have not built that relationship, then they will either lie to your face or throw you under the bus in the exit interview.

The ideal situation is that even before your team member sends in their notice, that you already know it’s coming.

This is brought about by constant communication and making a genuine connection with your team.

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4. Plan for transitions

The best practice in dealing with attrition is to anticipate by having a business continuity plan that not only involve assets but also resources. One of my mentors in the past taught me to groom my #2 and #3 as soon as I start my role.

This is especially helpful especially if you as their manager gets promoted or moved to another role.

But in cases where successors have not been identified, then it’s best that you start planning your team member’s replacement ASAP. Here are more tips:

  • Get your team member involved- Have your team member create a detailed transitions plan that includes files, timelines, resources that can help provide information in case the new hire won’t have a chance to get on-boarded by your team member
  • Talk to your team member about timelines - Depending on the work that will need to be transitioned, understand if it will be enough time to get another person onboarded. It’s always best to be mindful of the team member’s expectations. While they will be moving on, it’s best practice to respect each other’s expectations so that you get the most in the remaining time you have left
  • Establish regular touch base - This is to ensure that the plan is being adhered to and that progress is moving in the right direction.

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5. Check on your Team’s Engagement

While you wish the best for one of your team members, it’s best to investigate the engagement of the rest of the team. Having an attrition within the team is a reality check of what’s happening to the overall well-being of the rest of the team members. 

Regardless of the reason of that team member who is moving on, it’s best practice of successful leaders to have a temperature check with the rest. You’ll be surprised how it will bring in a feeling of stability if you check in with your team and see how they are coping with the upcoming change.


As their leader, your team will gravitate towards your energy especially in times of change. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity to communicate positively even in situations where the team member is leaving in bad taste, your team will zero in on your behavior and reaction.

Be mature and professional as your team asks for your reaction. Remember that they will note your reaction or feedback especially when it’s their time to move on.

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Attrition within the team is a time of change and resilience.

As the team leader, go about it with maturity, professionalism and gratefulness. Don’t be bitter or resentful during this time. Focus on the future and carve a path towards making sure you and your team will thrive despite the change of players.

Work on your team engagement during this critical time. This will bring the team forward and come together as they welcome new teammates in the near future.

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About Daisy Casio

Daisy Casio is a Passionate Operations Leader with over 16 years of work experience in various leadership roles. She has run diverse teams in multiple locations and has built teams from the ground up. She is the Founder of ChampLeaders Blog dedicated to transforming leaders to Champions. She writes about leadership, management, productivity, career tips, team engagement and many more. 


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