I own and run a small business with six full time staff. They are mostly French nationals, while I am a UK national.

The team leader has decided to quit, and has shared this, along with the exact date, with all of her colleagues, except me - her boss. Someone decided to inform me, in confidence, and I am at a loss as to what to do.

She is now clearly under-performing in her job, but not in a way that would constitute misconduct. I am now are planning for her departure, but feel that her behaviour is unprofessional, and is bound to be destabilizing for the rest of the team, as we run a small shop, and her slack will affect others.

The date that she intends to leave would require giving notice in five weeks.

How can I address her change in attitude and drop in performance while not betraying the trust of the person who informed me of the team lead's departure?

  • 4
    "I feel their behaviour is unprofessional" - in what way?
    – Mawg
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 7:30
  • 2
    What should I do? It's unclear to me what you want. Do you want her to officially give notice sooner, do you want her to leave now, or do you want her to fix their performance issues?
    – BSMP
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 9:17
  • 3
    The only (possible) unprofessionalism I can see here is the person who passed along what was perhaps meant to be confidential information. Obviously if they didn't realise it was a secret then that's a different matter, but if not, it's not for them to decide when to notify you. For all they know their colleague may just have been venting or may have a change of heart, but now they've soured the relationship between you with this information.
    – delinear
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 10:01
  • 3
    Hold a one-on-one meeting and address the obvious drop in performance. Ask if everything is alright, and whether she needs a few days off to recover for some reason. Do not act as if you know anything about her plans, see if she decides to share that she's leaving. If she doesn't, then she clearly doesn't see the relationship between you the same way you do. If the drop in performance gets worse, or if she start behaving in ways which are toxic to the team, you can organize another meeting and deal with those issues.
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 15:29
  • 2
    A lot of the advice on this site says to not tell your employer you are quitting more than the required notice. It is to protect yourself to not be terminated early, as well as protects you to not be subject to poor treatment afterward. If as you say she is going to France, perhaps she can't afford to not work the full time until she goes, so she is protecting herself. Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 9:24

2 Answers 2


Until you've received a resignation letter from the employee I would recommend that you continue to manage them as per normal.

That means, if they underperform then you may need to reprimand them as appropriate.

If they under perform in a major way or do something grossly unprofessional then you still have the ability to terminate them but be very careful to follow due process.

If you feel that their continued presence may be destablising for the rest of the team then you do have the option of placing them on "gardening leave" where they're effectively paid until their final day however if you do so then obviously caution is advised because you need to be clear as to whether they still have access to company resources including email etc during this period.

I'd recommend meeting with the employee for your regular one on one meeting with them to open up a healthy dialogue. Hopefully this will enable the employee and you to air any important issues and set the tone of the working relationship for the remainder of their employment.

  • terminate them or terminate their contract?
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 5:53
  • @virolino terminate them meaning a person meaning terminate the employee's employment if their (mis)behaviour justifies summary dismissal.
    – ChrisFNZ
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 7:01
  • 1
    I definitely understand what you mean, but it still sounds "funny".
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 7:04
  • 1
    Terminate ... with extreme prejudice
    – Mawg
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 7:31
  • 1
    @virolino Isn't that Schwarzenegger's job? Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 9:28

I did something similar once. I had personal problems with my project manager, and he was also one of the reasons I left. Could that be the case for you? But because everybody else knew, everybody else could prepare, and I actively managed knowledge transfer, so the rest of the team wouldn't suffer. Even my department head was informed, so he had the chance to search for a replacement.

You have given no other indication of their behavior, or why it should be destabilising. If this person is otherwise behaving professionally, i.e. doesn't bad mouth the company or anything like that and the only difference is that this person puts in the minimum amount of required effort, a lot of people will understand that you don't go above and beyond anymore when you leave. So just treat the situation professionally and act like you knew nothing, while preparing for the departure.

If there is any specific bad behavior, focus your actions on that. Apart from that, just prepare to the best of your ability.

  • thank you for these really helpful and considered responses. I suspect - because we are a really small business - this significance of this situation is magnified. we really don't have the resources for a member of staff to underperform. In any other situation this would just be a line management issue - managing this underperformance. but because I know she is going, I don't have much room to manoeuvre in this regard. I suppose I am in part baffled - why not just tell me? it would make my - busy and stressful - working life so much easier. :). Thanks again - really helpful.
    – PJC62
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 7:12
  • 1
    @PJC62 But actually you do not know that she is leaving. You only have second hand information about her leaving. Wait untill she gives notice and till then presume she is not leaving at all.
    – user180146
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 11:57
  • she is definitely leaving. she is moving back to France. she has given notice on her flat - even started collecting cardboard boxes in one of our storage units. :). But I take your point.
    – PJC62
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 18:45
  • Circumstantial evidence can be circumstantial. She's almost certainly leaving, but the evidence in your comment could also be explained by she happens to be moving about the same time as the rumor suggested, but to elsewhere in the city. One person saying everyone else knows is not always the same thing as everyone else actually knowing, so if you only have a report from one person, you only have a report from one person. That said, it's always good for every job to have backup.
    – Ed Grimm
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 18:02

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