One of my employees gave notice this week. When people leave, it is hard. It puts additional strain on the rest of the team to provide continuity of operations, and it is sad to have people move on. As she was sitting with me in my office, she said she couldn’t be happy for her new opportunity until she had told me. That was a strange statement to hear as a leader. As I sit and contemplate what that meant to me and my leadership, and try to stifle the fear of how that work is going to get covered, I want to share what this person has meant to me during my career.
I started off as an office of ONE, diligently working to grow support infrastructure for clinical research. Nancy, was the first person I hired to help me in this treasured endeavor. I recruited her from another office in the school and she was familiar with organizational processes. This was a tremendous value added as I was not equipped to do the strategy and the practical pieces of building this unit.
Nancy jumped on board wholeheartedly. She helped develop processes, handled the project management with extreme organization (we never missed a deadline), and was hands down the most proficient outreach event planner I have ever encountered. In addition to these practical skills, she became a trusted mentor. As a new director, I was constantly challenged with adversity related to the behavior (and entitlement) of seasoned academics. She reinforced my good decisions, protected my time, and most importantly, told me what I needed to hear as a new leader.
I came to know just how wonderful and competent she was when she began to take on more than her share of the work, and started to assist with grant preparation. We worked together to define a new role, and promoted her into it. She thrived in this new position! She attended professional development conferences, drafted policies, and became a trusted resource for all of campus. She was a key contributor to training workshops for new employees, and started to standardize the application process for the school.
Reflecting on all that we built together in the last 3 years, the ONLY feeling I have about her departure is pride. I am so proud of her. She has taken this opportunity to create a niche for herself where she can be even more successful. She made me a better leader. The kind of leader I want for myself. She taught me how to protect myself against people who could take advantage of me, and encouraged me when I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Her counsel will forever be ingrained in my leadership style.
I encourage you to treasure your people while you have them, and celebrate their prosperity when they leave. If you are a worthy leader, then their success is your success too.
Happy trails Nancy! I literally could not have done it without you!