The Words “I’m Leaving” Often Sucker Punch Me In The Gut

It’s just business. Yes, we all say it’s just business, but things get very personal when you manage employees effectively. Your connection starts the day you interview them. You deliberate on the best candidate. You plan the best offer and you get excited when they join the team. Then it’s off to meticulously planning their onboarding to ensure you are setting them up for success, you set expectations and start to train and mentor them.

You take time to get to know employees, their career goals, what motivates them and what frustrates them. You get to know about employees’ families and their passions outside the office. You cheer them on when they run marathons. You recognize them for a job well done and commiserate when things aren’t going as planned at work. You spend countless hours in airports together and laugh about the time you got lost driving to a client’s office. In the end, you often spend more time with employees during the week than your loved ones.

All this isn’t about increasing employee engagement scores. It’s about truly caring about employees because people are what makes our job satisfying. Think about all the amazing work you have done and what’s the common denominator… it’s people. None of us can do our job alone. It takes a team to do great work, and we all win, and yes… lose together.

So, when one of your employees says it’s time to go, most of the time, it’s hard not to feel like you were just suckered punched. To reflect and ask yourself what you could have done differently. How could you have engaged them even more? When did things take a dive? What can you learn from this experience?

You read and cringe at their exit interviews. A roller coaster of emotions takes over from being happy for them and this new opportunity to being mad because they never even mentioned the reason they gave you for leaving. And they never gave you an opportunity to fix it.

Then you realize this is just business. The business of their career, their family and possibly making more money. You reflect on their growth. You feel good about the impact you made on them and appreciate what you learned from them as well. You realize the mentoring doesn’t have to stop here, and then you get excited about the opportunity of hiring again. What will this new person bring to the table? New ideas. New excitement. New passion. New skills. And the cycle starts all over again.

Just like being a parent, managing people is one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences. I’m grateful for all the staff who I’ve had the opportunity to work with and look forward continuing along in their journey. I look forward to being wowed by new employees I haven’t met yet. And I’m appreciative for an amazing mentor who instilled in me the importance of training, mentoring and giving everything you’ve got to help employees expand their skill set and succeed.

Jennifer Manocchio


After starting her career with Edelman in Chicago, Jennifer joined Sweeney and quickly established herself as an exceptional industry innovator. In 2004, she opened Sweeney’s first full-service office outside of Cleveland and quickly rose through the ranks to become agency president. Jen leads by example and without fear. She has been critical to agency growth throughout the past decade and continues to lead the agency into the future.