It was recently announced that this would be Kristin Wiig’s last season on Saturday Night Live. Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis are reportedly leaving too, but let’s just focus on Kristin for now (because frankly that’s what most people seem to care about anyway.) She hasn’t officially confirmed her exit yet but she told actor Alec Baldwin in his “Here’s The Thing,” a twice monthly radio podcast for WNYC.org, that she would be sorry to part company with the cast and writers on the show. There is no doubt that Kristin’s career will continue to thrive (she was nominated for an Oscar this year for Bridesmaids) but how will SNL cope with it’s superstar gone? How does any business, especially a small one, survive the exit of a major player?
“I’m going to miss that camaraderie and I’m going to miss seeing all those faces every day, and what the people bring out in me, creatively. That creative muscle that you have when you’re at ‘SNL,’ you know, it’s so fast-paced,” said Wiig. “I will say that when I do leave it’s not because I’m sick of it and not because I see something better or anything like that. It’s just that it’s time. When I do leave, it will be the hardest thing … But you have to leave the things you love,” she added.
All good advice, but how do the people at SNL feel? Lorne Michaels and the rest of the writers have to deal with the fact that they are losing a major talent (Kristin often seems to be in more sketches than anyone else on the show.) According to an rticle in the New York Times, Michaels placed her among the “top three or four” performers ever to star on the show. The loss of talent is obvious but they also have to reassure the staff that they are going to survive this exodus of three big names on the show. We talked to some career experts on how to get your employees through the superstar exit.
- Manage the announcement: Mike Peiru Principal of EcoFin Media suggests having the person that is leaving break the big news. Also, don’t just do this last minute. Put some preparation into it. Peiru wrote, “The message from the departing employee should contain elements of gratitude, appreciation, reinforcement and motivation. You want the rest of the team to take away a feeling that despite this departure, things can continue to be successful. The time between your learning of the departure and the time it is formally announced should be as brief as possible. This minimizes the opportunities for gossip and innuendo.”
- Reassure the rest of your team: Adam Kruse, a broker at The Hermann London Group, told The Grindstone they recently had two of their top superstars leave their 30-person firm. He said, “We calmed the team down by presenting it honestly to them, wishing the people who left the best of luck and saying how much we respect them. Then our leadership team has integrated into the actual space where the rest of the team sits, so we can maintain a positive attitude and a feeling of activity and success around the office. We are celebrating the positive things that are happening more than normal through company wide emails when great things happen, and we made sure to have one on one lunches etc with the rest of our great people.
- Identify new potential leaders: Peiru suggests using this time to help find new leaders. “If you plan to promote from within and no one is quite ready to step into the shoes of the departed employee, then communicate that effectively. Also communicate what will be the process for selecting a replacement, what is the timetable involved, who are the decision makers and what is the selection criteria. Assist potential replacements to rise to the occasion through mentoring,” he wrote.
- Boost morale with a team outing: You need to keep things happy after the company star leaves. Show everyone that this is still a good place to work. Peiru suggests organizing an excursion or maybe a dinner. “This gives everyone an opportunity to process the change in a relaxed setting while also sending the message that you value those that have stayed with the company,” he wrote.
- Don’t keep mentioning the departed employee: The person has moved on and so should you. Plus, if you are talking about the old employee in front of new employees it makes them feel excluded, said Peiru.