What if Your Top Sales Manager Quits?

Imagine this. One of your top sales managers has asked to meet with you. You settle into your morning coffee, take a seat at your desk, and invite the sales manager into your office. Right away, you notice something off in his tone. And then it happens … he delivers his two-weeks’ notice.

Business leaders too often find themselves blindsided when a star employee decides to quit. In many cases, this event is a rude wake-up call to those who failed to see the warning signs of a disengaged employee.

Effective leaders know and understand their people as individuals, where they fit on the team, and how they each contribute to the bottom line—especially those serving as frontline managers. Such managers walk alongside you and are your gateway to the inner workings of the company. Without them, leaders are at a loss regarding organizational climate. They also shine a light on how key people are performing and the progress they are making in relation to departmental and enterprise-wide goals.

Leaders should make it a priority to connect with their managers, foster teamwork, and challenge them to exceed expectations. Most importantly, they must make sure that managers know they are valued.

But leaders who become immersed in operational oversight and strategic planning at the expense of relationships are, ironically, more likely to drive turnover and less likely to see the resignations coming.

If the problem has already occured, it’s crucial to survey the situation, get a clear understanding of what went wrong, and use the experience as an opportunity to ensure that other top performers do not follow suit.

Gaining Clarity

If your top performer gives notice, you still have time to turn the situation around. Why has he decided to leave? Understanding the underlying reasons behind your employee’s decision is the first step to remedying the situation. Is it because you haven’t given him enough support and attention? Does he feel undervalued, and if so, why? Is there too much conflict across the team? Is he no longer satisfied with the work?

Leaders sometimes assume top performers don’t need their time or advice. After all, such employees have already “made it,” so it’s better to focus on people are aren’t getting it done. This is a mistake.

Coaching and development will only stick with people who are genuinely interested in improving. Remember to always make meaningful connections with your top people. When top performers feel that leaders have their best interests in mind, they will be more engaged in the work and more committed to shared success.

If the situation cannot be changed and the employee has made a final decision to leave, it’s up to you to learn from the situation and modify your approach to ensure that other top performers don’t feel tempted to explore other job opportunities.

Leading for the Future

It should go without saying that recognizing top performers and acknowledging their contributions to the company drives engagement and loyalty.

When top employees do move on to other opportunities, the transition does not have to be chaotic. Effective leaders will already know who their high-potential employees are and will be grooming them to rise through the ranks when leadership positions become available.

Businesses that thrive in challenging times will be those that identify and develop the leaders of tomorrow. Hi-po development programs are an excellent method for ensuring that an organization has the leadership bench strength required to do so.

When a key manager leaves, there is often a suitable candidate within your own company who can successfully take on the challenge. Are you already aware of which team members have the potential to be leaders? (Note that being a hard worker or being reliable isn’t the same thing as being a leader.) Do you have a plan in place to mentor and develop these employees? If the answer is “no,” then it’s time to get to work.


To find out more about how Caliper can help you retain and engage your employees, visit www.calipercorp.com or email info@calipercorp.com.

Caliper is a human capital analytics company leveraging decades of data and validated assessment results to predict and select high-quality candidates. Caliper partners with all types of organizations, industries, and sectors – from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses and from government agencies to non-profits. We help companies reduce the risk of bad hiring decisions; build high-performing teams; and engage, develop, and retain their employees. Contact us to learn more.

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