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Help! My Rock Star Employee Just Put In His 2 Weeks’ Notice

Dave had just turned in his two weeks' notice.  Dave is a rock star. The kind of employee you tell the other installers to be like. We love Dave. Thoughts raced through my mind. What had we done wrong? And how do we make Dave happy?

Thursday was going great. My operations manager, Dante, and I finished up a great call and both remarked at how short our collective task list was getting. After much virtual back patting and high-fiving we both hung up and began taking on the rest of the day. I rewarded myself with a few minutes of my audiobook (I’m into Hamilton by Ron Chernow right now. So good!). A text message from Dante flashed across the top of my vehicle’s touchscreen. Siri began to read aloud… “Game changer, Dave just turned in his two weeks’ notice.”

Dave (whose name isn’t really Dave) is a rock star. The kind of employee you tell the other installers to be like. Likeable, professional, tenacious. We love Dave. Customers love Dave. Dave’s a popular guy. He’s been Employee of the Month five months over the last two years. No one wants to lose a Dave.

Thoughts raced through my mind. What had we done wrong? Dave seemed so happy. We checked in with him constantly and made sure he had goals to aim for and his voice was heard. Dante and I talked about Dave for a few minutes and formulated a plan.

Image: Thinkstock
The first question we always ask ourselves when someone hands in their notice is simple. “Are we willing to fight for them?” We call it the Keeper Test. If the answer is yes, we fight (it’s usually not). Dave passed the Keeper Test with flying colors.

We decided to gather as much information about Dave’s motives as possible by discretely canvassing his co-workers and friend. We found out Dave’s new job offer afforded him better healthcare and a little bit more money. In addition, Dave would be paid for his travel time (we don’t pay for travel time anymore). A short list began to emerge:

1.Better benefits
2.More money
3.More authority and leadership responsibilities

Dante and I have been working on a new job description encompassing our Network Operations Center and supporting our clients and employees with their remote support issues. It’s a critical role as our company transforms into more of a managed services business and we’d already floated Dave’s name for it the day before. We kicked things into high gear, finished the job description, drafted a new offer letter catering to Dave’s motives with the following features:

1.New job title: Service Support Engineer (SSE—so cool sounding, right?)
2.More money—nothing crazy, but enough to say “We love you and want you to stay”
3.Commitment to have him work out of the office. No more travel, no more on-call schedule, just Dave at the desk making a big difference.

I called Dave and invited him to breakfast Friday morning. I’ve found moving quickly in these situations is important.

At breakfast I laid out a folder in front of Dave. On one side, the job description and the other contained his new offer letter. Dave read through each document thoroughly while gazing long and hard. He didn’t say much. I’ve always found the first one to speak loses, so I said nothing.

“Wow,” said Dave. He told me he needed some time to think it over but also relayed he didn’t expect us to come at him with such an aggressive counter. “We love you Dave and want you to stay and grow with us,” is all I said.

Did Dave stick around? Tune in next time to find out.

Stay frosty and see you in the field.