Over the past few weeks, several people I’ve had the pleasure of working with have left the company. I used to feel confused and a little disturbed by people’s departures, particularly if they’d tried to find other internal opportunities and the timing didn’t work out. Quite a few of my mentors left IBM, and one of my colleagues even lightheartedly teased me about it.
I feel much less worried about people leaving now. I wish them luck on their next adventure, connect with them through social networks so that we can keep in touch, subscribe to their blogs or follow them on Twitter, set myself a reminder to follow up with them, and perhaps write them a recommendation on LinkedIn.
Here’s what I understand now that I didn’t understand in the beginning: It’s okay.
When people leave for other companies, they colonize those companies with the things they’ve learned in ours. They spread skills and ideas they’ve honed here, while learning even more from new cultures and new situations. New things become possible.
The network grows. Now I might be able to easily reach out to one more company, one more industry. Now I might hear about interesting ideas and trends outside my usual areas of focus. Now I might connect even more diverse worlds.
It’s not all an easy win, of course. People leave behind these gaps, these unfulfilled possibilities. They also leave new opportunities. What will their successors create? How will the organization adapt around them? How will everyone grow?
I still work on helping IBM improve, in my own little way. But now I can properly wish people good luck on their new adventures, and be confident that things will generally work out.