When first starting a new management job, it’s wise to get to know your direct reports quickly, but all too often (and for a whole variety of reasons), resignations can follow structural changes. 

So how do you manage change positively when you step into a new management role? First and foremost, the best way to deal with resignations in your team is of course to try to stop them happening in the first place. Although you can't always change people's opinions, there are some things you can do to ease the transition period for yourself and your new team.

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Make a great first impression

Management changes tend to create an environment of uncertainty as existing staff adjust to the new manager's personality, management style and direction. The following steps will help you make a favourable initial impression in the first 4-6 weeks of a management position:

  1. Brief your own managers on your approach, find out what the strategic business objectives are and align your thinking on how to achieve these goals
  2. Take time to get to know everyone in your team and give them all a chance to speak in a one-to-one environment about their role, challenges and career goals
  3. Find as much out as you can about the culture of the organisation you’re entering
  4. Gather the collective insights and formulate a plan that focuses on meeting business objectives and also makes best use of individual skills
  5. Communicate the plan clearly both upwards and with your team
  6. Let your team get to know you, too – don’t feel that you have to only play the role of the manager. You can start the foundations of strong working relationships by also being yourself.

While you can follow these steps to a T, they may not always be enough. It’s almost inevitable that some employees will have made up their mind before you even arrived and are ready to hand in their resignation. In this case, consider the following:

The counter-offer

The chances are the employee has weighed up the pros and cons of staying/leaving already, but in the little time you’ve been working with them, you will likely have learned enough to know whether they are worth fighting to keep.

However, if their continued presence in the team will create disharmony, don’t feel obliged to offer a pay rise or title upgrade just to keep them on board. It may be better to start afresh with a new team member that you’ve chosen.

Use the remaining time with them effectively

If the employee’s mind is made up or a counter-offer is not a route you wish to go down, then the clock is ticking until the person leaves the business and takes with them priceless institutional knowledge.

Talk openly with the departing employee – find out why they are leaving, learn as much as you can from them about the way the business is run, get the good, the bad and the ugly, plan out a handover strategy and make the last days and weeks of their time with you as valuable as possible.

Learn lessons from their reasons for leaving

In some instances, your arrival will upset people in the team you’re joining – perhaps because of a personality clash, or they especially liked the previous manager and don’t feel you can come close to living up to them, or simply because they wanted your job themselves and were overlooked. Whatever the reason, try to understand it and make changes to prevent further unrest within the team.

End on a positive note

Although the outgoing staff member might have some negative feelings that contributed to their leaving, as the manager, your responsibility is to not enhance those negative feelings. Make sure they receive the appropriate send-off, and thank them for their contribution to the team and the company. This sends a message to remaining employees that you’re fair and not petty.

Next, you have to turn the negative into a positive.

Make your mark, free from dissenters

Having started a new job, learnt the ropes and bedded into daily tasks, it’s time to start making an impression and doing things your way. It’s worth noting that this might only be possible if certain individuals, who would have caused obstructions and clashed with you, have since parted ways with the organisations. 

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Bring in fresh thinking

Being new to the company it’s almost certain that you will be bringing a new perspective to many things, but there are advantages to bringing in others that will do the same day-to-day. The employee who resigned may well have been in the role for some time and could easily have become stuck in their ways.

Grow your own team

Having an appointment to make so early in your new position gives you a chance to build a team that is your responsibility and will be loyal to you – assuming you manage them well.

Remember that you don’t have to directly replace the outgoing staff member – you can slightly adjust job roles to bring in fresh skillsets and ready your team for changes in the industry.

Losing team members can be a blow at any stage of your management career, but when you are new to a position and the out-going employee is a valuable member of staff, it can stop you in your tracks. However, you can turn such situations to your advantage and come out of it stronger.

Check out our management advice articles more great leadership advice.


The best way to deal with resignations in your team is of course to try to stop them happening in the first place. Where this isn’t possible and the employee has made up their mind, consider the following and turn a negative into a positive:
  • The counter-offer
  • Use the remaining time with them effectively
  • Learn lessons from their reasons for leaving
  • Make your mark, free from dissenters
  • Bring in fresh thinking
  • Grow your own team
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