Saying Goodbye to a Departing Team Member
You have just learned that a member of your team will be leaving to take another position elsewhere. Is this a moment when you want to laugh or cry? If the team member you are losing is a dedicated worker who promotes team unity, is a friend to all, and makes the morning coffee without fail, you feel like crying. Conversely, if the departing team member is a thorn in the side of the team, always grousing about everything, and not pulling his or her weight, you want to do a happy dance when you learn that s/he is leaving.
These polar opposite reactions make it difficult to use a "one size fits all" departure ritual in your team. If the departing party is not liked by other team members, you might have an embarrassing moment when you hold a goodbye luncheon and no one attends. It is recommended that saying goodbye be a very individualized process. If everyone wants an opportunity to say goodbye, then a gathering is in order. If not, then perhaps the supervisor should take the unpopular team member to lunch and present them with a small gift and a card wishing them luck, and let that be the goodbye event. Once the person is gone, the remainder of the team can celebrate the fact that the person has departed.
When a highly beloved team member leaves it is traditional to give a meal, a cake, a gift, and a card to say goodbye with gusto, or for something a little extra special you may want to have a themed party to say goodbye in style. The meal may be a restaurant outing or a carry-in potluck for a breakfast or lunch feast. Gag gifts add to the festivities if the departing team member has a rich sense of humour.
Anticipate lowered team productivity for a period of time if the member who leaves is valued by the team, and a period of increased productivity when the least valued member of the team departs. Once the team adjusts to the loss of the team member, the productivity will likely return to pre-departure levels until a new team member is added.