Relationships change all of the time. Some are more lasting than others, depending on the circumstances. And today with technology tools like Facebook it’s much easier to continue relationships that might have otherwise ended.

In another post, I talk about how we need to spend as much effort on our internal customer relationships as our external ones. But, what happens when that internal customer is no longer “internal” to our business?

Natural evolution. People leave companies and move on to new opportunities. And organizations ask people to leave when their skills or performance no longer fit or there are financial constraints. The majority of us have experienced this, except for the few brave souls who have always been entrepreneurs or have only had one employer.

Broken relationships. Most of the time when this event in the relationship happens, it’s broken or ended. A person leaving an organization might continue a relationship with a few specific individuals, but not usually the organization as a whole. Sometimes, it’s a result of indifference, but sometimes the relationship is left with a negative impact. Most people understand not to “burn bridges” with former employers, but it doesn’t always play out that way.

Different approach. There are times when individuals leave our team voluntarily and then there are times we ask them to leave. Often, however, our relationship with that person continues POSITIVELY. On a personal level and a professional level. We may even work with a former employee as a contractor or recommend them to other organizations. Why?

Because we’re in the business of relationships. And business is all about relationships. We don’t just connect people online, we help them offline too.

Put this into practice:

Serve cake – often when an employee is asked to leave there is no celebration of what they contributed. It may not always work, but if possible plan out a “parting party” for the person leaving, even if it’s a few days or weeks later. It may be low key, but the point is you’re recognizing the contributions of this person.

Plan a message – make a point to communicate with this person about something specific in the first few days of their leaving. And make it significant, beyond something necessary like the continuation of his/her benefits.

Make a connection – help them figure out what is next. Help them network with a few people or find a way to use their talents within your team, just differently than before.

Whether at the beginning of an employment relationship or the end, this person has value. Not only as a human, but also in something you experienced with him/her initially. Keeping a healthy relationship beyond the internal walls of your organization, can lead to better opportunities for the former employees and better potential connections for you. And this sets a great tone for your employment brand!