View Full Version : Advice - Co-Owner Leaving Firm, Telling Remaining Employees

01-28-2014, 04:22 PM
I co-own a small tech firm (10 employees total) and have been the nerve center driving business and managing employees for the last five years. I am going to be leaving my company physically in 4 months, at which point I will be working remotely full-time for another three months. In the fall, I will be starting a new position in a different career. I will maintain ownership of the business but have limited involvement. I want the company to sustain and be successful. Does anyone have any thoughts to share regarding telling employees? My other owners and I have talked about a transition plan and have a plan in place, I think it can be successful but the key is to convince the others that it will still be a great place to work without sounding disingenuous. Any practical, experience-based advice would be appreciated!

01-30-2014, 01:21 AM
If departing will lower the morale of your employees then there's no point in telling them that you're leaving. If you've in the past gone on vacation then this could be used as an excuse for not being physically present at the work place. If you've never taken a vacation then make it appear like you're treating yourself to that for the first time. . .

In your absence the employees will have to adjust themselves to the new management in place and they won't miss you much after three months. Once that time elapses, you could visit and inform them that you won't be working with them anymore. It won't be that bad then because, they'd have adjusted themselves to the new working environment.

01-30-2014, 11:34 AM
I wouldn't agree that you shouldn't tell them. Don't you think that would be kind of wrong? I would just schedule a meeting and have a talk with everyone about it. They'll adjust, but at least you'll know that you went about things the right way.

01-30-2014, 03:32 PM
I agree on not telling them directly. Just casually be there less and less. They wont notice and wont get the feeling "oh he isnt working here anymoer" instead it will be "oh he is just doing different projects outside of here". Make it seem like you are still inside the business 100%

01-30-2014, 06:30 PM
I agree on not telling them directly. Just casually be there less and less. They wont notice and wont get the feeling "oh he isnt working here anymoer" instead it will be "oh he is just doing different projects outside of here". Make it seem like you are still inside the business 100%

I like the "projects outside of here" line.

Maybe they will be smart/mature enough to get the point that you arent as involved.

01-31-2014, 01:02 PM
I think all you have to do is be honest to your employees. You need to tell them exactly what you are doing and why. You need to assure them, however, that inspite of the changes that will happen, you still remain to be supportive of the company and that there is a clear action plan to initiate the changes.

02-01-2014, 05:38 AM
Tempting as it may be to tell everyone that you're going on a vacation, sabbatical, retreat or whatever, and then come back and announce that, actually, your absence will be permanent, that's really not honest - so please don't do that!

You have a small team of professionals whom you have been working closely with for 5 years, so they (hopefully) like and trust you - you should treat them like the adults they are and tell them the truth. If you are making a career change, you presumably feel strongly that it's the right choice for you, so you simply have to explain to them what you're doing and why.

Some of your staff might be upset, yes, but companies sometimes have to change to grow and develop, just as humans do. Maybe you can stop by every now and then, seeing as you'll still be part-owner, so you won't vanish altogether, and presumably your replacement in the business development and management function you have held will be competent (one of the other owners?). It does sound like you and your partners have a good transition plan in place, so just be clear about what is going on, and let staff know they can come and discuss any uncertainties with you.

02-01-2014, 08:21 AM
I think it is too early right now and people who are under you might get affected. So I would suggest that you wait for at least 2.5 -3 months before you or the management lets them know. Working with co-workers for 5 years and continually delivering definitely makes the employees feel closer and they do share a bond of togetherness. So many would treat this as a sad news and that might scare them or feel insecure and amidst all this, their productivity might get hampered.

I think you should look on at the contingent plan that you already have in place and maybe do a re-think and try to assess it by putting yourself into the shoes of your co-workers or even the team mates (in case you are the team lead)

02-04-2014, 11:58 AM
I think you should tell them the truth about why you are leaving. Obviously the business is financially stable, so tell them the truth! Most of them will respect that and just because you have different interests doesn't mean they don't love their job too! You will still be part of the company, so you aren't really just leaving them. You could probably come to visit sometimes or maybe make a tradition of attending the christmas party! Good luck!

02-04-2014, 12:28 PM
I don't agree about not telling them. That might further lower morale once they realized that you were gone permanently. That is a tricky situation. If you are leaving to pursue a different career, they might feel that their jobs aren't as secure. Hopefully, you can explain to them that your decision to leave has nothing to do with the viability of the company and that their continued efforts will keep the company running smoothly. Make sure they know that you are still an owner and are still invested in the company in that way, so they know that you still believe in the company. Hopefully all will go well and they will take the transition well.