Beyond a farewell... dare a «See you soon» !


It is very fashionable to say you are working on innovation (whether you are designing a new engine or launching an app for an umpteenth food delivery service).

To attract the so-called millenials, our time has recently been extremely innovative in the design of new HR processes and tools: induction programme and on-boarding tools; e-learning and m-learning solutions ; continuous feedback scheme etc. Each step of the employee’s life should be revamped and endowed with a tech solution.

But I believe one step of the employee’s life is still poorly addressed: when a key talent decides to leave.

Most of the time, the person leaving is still considered as a traitor, whatever his/her projects are.


It is not possible anymore to plan a 30-year career within the same company. We all know it but we have to admit it. And yet, we are being tough with the person who decides to leave. Let’s consider the case of somebody who decides to leave to do something different (not leaving to join a competitor, which is another story).

There could be many good reasons to leave. Today, a young or senior executive can choose between a wide range of options, the horizon is wider than before. One with a career built in a traditional brick and mortar company may be tempted by a position in a tech company. He or she could also be offered to join an entrepreneurial venture, decide to work abroad or undergo trainings to move to a new job.

Could we really blame them and at the same time value agility, promote internal ventures & start ups, expect new leaders to be entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs?


I recently met HR executives trying to improve the departure process from the company. They have been working on what they call a return ticket: the person leaving is still part of the extended community.

In the short term, it is of course highly powerful to build a network of alumni outside the company, ready to talk advanteagously about the company.

In the medium to long term – that is precisely what I would like to emphasize -, I believe you could interview those people again because they are ready to come back. They have been exposed to other models and ways of thinking but they are still committed to their original employer and they could consider coming back.

As a headhunter, I have already been dealing with such situations. I had to address my client’s suspicion as to why he/she actually left and why he/she wished to come back.

I indeed met executives ready to come back to a company after a few years in a different geography, industry, type of organization… And I can tell they are very powerful and well rounded executives for both their former and new employer. They both bring in new blood and they understand the legacy.

It takes for a mature organisation to invest in people development and be somewhat comfortable when they leave. Those people may be able to accelerate their development and create value on their return.

In the future, do not focus only on the farewell party. Dare say «see you soon».