Momentum Podcast: 513

What to Do When Someone Torches the Place

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

A few episodes ago, we discussed why some employees torch the place on their way out. In this podcast, we talk about what to do when it happens. People who threaten your business when they go are looking for a way to justify leaving. It's that simple. They need to place blame on you, or the company, and come up with a reason to leave the team rather than just walking away.

The more you react to someone torching the place on the way out, the more damage that will be done in your business. Any emotional reaction you have is going to unsettle your team, don't let one person leaving trigger everyone. Calm your reaction and remember this is part of being an employer. Building relationships is your job, and sometimes they fall apart. Know nothing is perfect, and there will be times ahead with massive challenges. Prepare yourself for someone torching the place on the way out. Know it's going to happen and remember not to react. Understand it's about the position you're in, and that you're not alone. It happens even to the best of us; it's part of life.

Full Transcript Below

A few podcasts ago, I did an episode on why people torch the place on the way out. Why team members sometimes are aggressive, or over the top, or do things on the way out of a business that cause a tremendous amount of chaos. In this episode, I want to revisit what you should do when someone does this.

I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast. Made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off, and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy, and make our greatest contribution.

Sure we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just day dreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We, are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world. Because, entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive, human evolution, and we always will be.

This is the second podcast on a similar topic of, when team members leave the business, or leave your business and they cause chaos, or havoc, or get other people involved, or do things that torch the place on the way out, that threaten the business on the way out. And one of the reasons I'm doing a second podcast on this is because I got a ton of feedback from my first one. I think there's a reason why. See I think as entrepreneurs when we're growing businesses, when we're hiring people, when we're managing our teams, we share everything that's happening that's positive. We share the momentum we're feeling, we share how much we're making progress, but we have a hard time sharing when something challenging happens, when something frustrating happens.

And when it comes to our team, often times that challenging frustration feels threatening as well. It feels like we're exposed, it feels vulnerable. And so a lot of the time we don't talk about when we have challenges with our teams. In fact when you go to masterminds, when you see people on stage, they're not often saying, "Oh hey there's this real disaster I had with my team, let me share it with you." And I think one of the challenges with the fact that this isn't part of our conversation, is that when an entrepreneur has an issue with their team, or somebody does cause havoc, or chaos, or do things on the way out of the business that are challenging, we feel like we are totally and completely alone.

In fact, when I go back to the beginning of Cadey and I working together over 15 years ago, when we started having teams. And I remember one of the first times that somebody did this, somebody was really aggressive on the way out for no reason, I don't know why, they were frustrated, they were angry, they were making noise, they distracted a bunch of our team members. And the first time it happened, we were triggered, we were upset, and I don't want you to react the way I did. Because when somebody did it, I was frustrated, I was angry, I was angry with them, I let everybody around me know how angry I was, and that just didn't work well. See Cadey and I had been through the whole thing.

So first we were triggered, then it happened so often we kind of got numb to it. Then we saw a pattern, and then we became really deliberate when things like this happen. Let me share this with you. See, I want you to know something, this happens all the time. Because if you have a tight culture on your team, if you have a really strong team, the more your team performs together, the better a culture you have, ironically, the more often this happens. Because people need an excuse, they need help leaving the tribe, leaving the team, and they will often create that excuse or help, by causing challenges on the way out of the business. And here's what I want you to know when this happens to you.

I mentioned this in the first podcast, but I feel like it's the most important part. Is the more you react to somebody torching the place on the way out, the more damage will be done in your business. And here's what I want you to know, leave room, leave space for them to come back to you. Don't expose yourself, leave room for them to come back eventually. Because here's what I want you to know. Some of the most challenging and egregious departures that Cadey and I have ever had, the ones where we were frustrated and concerned and didn't even understand what was going on with the team member, within months, or sometimes years, that person has come back to us, apologized, reconciled, talked about how much we've helped them.

We've received dozens of letters from people, we've received feedback that a lot of the times people have taken responsibility. Now not everyone, we've certainly had people who've done this, they haven't taken responsibility, we've also had people working with us that we shouldn't have had working with us, they don't take responsibility for anything. But what normally happens is, people will take responsibility and after a while they'll come back to you and they'll talk to you about how they reacted when they were leaving your team. So leave space for them to do that. Now this is what's important. Here's what's important you do when this happens. So number one, any reaction you have when somebody is leaving, any emotional reaction you have is going to unsettle your team.

Any triggered reaction you have is going to unsettle your team. So what you don't want to do is take somebody leaving triggering your team, and then trigger them again because you are over the top, or upset, or frustrated about it. So, calm your reaction, and realize this is about the team you have, not the person that's leaving. Second I want you to know, when somebody torches a place on the way out, this is about you, but it's also about you being a CEO. People don't know how to deal with a CEO. They have to kick away, it's this new type of authority figure in people's lives, you are a new authority figure in people's lives, that they don't really know how to deal with.

And so, if you have someone who was a great team member one day, and then needs to get out of there the next day because they have a new opportunity, or there's something situational that they want to do, often times, they're going to make you the bad guy. And I want you to know, this is not just from mine and Cadey's business, this is from us working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and seeing the same scenario over and over again. Where somebody's leaving and then the company has to be wrong. The person running the company has to be wrong, they have to make everything about the situation that they're leaving, and not the fact that they just want to go.

And then the other reason this is so important is, knowing you're not alone in this situation helps. Because, if you have someone who all of a sudden from one week to the next is great on your team, and now leaves and starts saying bad things about you, or says bad things to you, or is challenging their behavior, I want you to know, you are not alone. This is just how the employer employee relationship is. So here's what I want you to know. First, the employee employer relationship is transactional, don't talk yourself out of this. And I know that that sounds cold, I know that sounds calculated, but here's what I want you to understand. As the employer, it is a transactional relationship.

You are paying somebody to be in a relationship with you called a team member, an employee, and it's transactional. And team members when they decide to leave, often times, they can't reconcile the transactional nature of the work relationship, with the personal nature of the relationship you built with them, and that's why they often leave in a more damaging or challenging, or frustrating way, because relationships are hard for people, relationships are hard for everyone. Now I want you to know something, even though they're hard for people, they're hard for everyone and you will get burned, you will get burned as a CEO. I want to reinforce that, you will get burned. It's not if it happens, it's not it might happen, it will happen.

If you employ enough people, eventually, you will get burned. And so when this happens, I want you to know something, that building relationships is your job. So if you are running a business and you're trying to make a sale and you don't make a sale, and it doesn't work out, you don't quit the business because you didn't make a sale, so same thing with team members. If you're building a relationship, and a relationship goes sideways and somebody leaves, you have to know that relationships, just like people, have issues. And so you will have issues in the relationships you have, some will go sideways, they will be challenging. But building relationships is your job, understanding the people that work with you is your job. Supporting them is your job. So you just have to keep doing it.

And understand this, sometimes they'll be a transactional nature, where there are harsh transitions in relationships, there's harsh transitions in communication with people, that's part of being a CEO. And some, some people who work with you, will transcend the employee employer relationship. They will go from a transactional relationship, to a transformational relationship, and so you'll maintain some relationships with people long term. There's people that have worked with us that I still talk to after years. There's people that worked with me 20 years ago that I still have relationships with, because I focused on building the relationship, it didn't blow up when they leave. So understand, this isn't going to happen with everybody, but you have to understand it will happen with a significant percentage of people leaving your business.

And so this is what you have to understand is that, sooner or later when you're building a business, your mission is to grow a team to help you do what you want to do. And knowing how is going to change everything. And understanding that relationships aren't perfect, people aren't perfect, your business isn't perfect, and there will be times when there are massive challenges and someone goes sideways, knowing that going in is going to help you. Because the first time this happens, I've watched entrepreneurs do all kinds of things. Correct issues that weren't there, change processes that didn't need changing, judge themselves and get worried about who they are. In fact, I've seen people have one team member leave the business in a challenging way, and stop hiring for a year or longer, because it's so emotionally challenging for us as entrepreneurs.

So when we admit that this is not easy, when we admit that there are going to be challenges, when we admit that we're going to be dealing with things as entrepreneurs, life gets that much easier for us. And when we understand that sooner or later we're going to have that challenging process where somebody leaves, torches the place on the way out, causes chaos, wreaks havoc, knowing it's going to happen, is going to help you. And then remembering, don't react, understand it's probably not just about you, it's about you and the position you're in, and you are not alone, this happens to even the best of us. So if you're ready to start building a team and build an organization around you that you can trust, that you understand, that you communicate with where everyone knows what's going on and they can help you get to your final destination, then go to

You do not have to do this all yourself. Growing a team is not easy, but we can help you make it easier, and get into momentum with the people around you. Because when you have a clear plan and your team understands the plan, and everyone's moving in the same direction, the feeling of momentum is unreal. I want you to experience it. Go to, answer a few questions from my team, jump on a call with one of us, and let us see if we can help you.

Thank You For Listening!

I am truly grateful that you have chosen to spend your time listening to me and my podcast.

Please feel free to reach out if you have a question or feedback via our Contact Us page.

Please leave me a review on iTunes and share my podcast with your friends and family.

With gratitude,


Scroll to Top

Simply enter your email address below to get instant access to the Free 90-Minute Predictable Business Growth Training.

We hate spam, so we won't send you any...

We are excited to share the Predictable Planning System with you.

Please enter your email address below so we can share more valuable content with you in the future.

I hate spam, so I won't send you any...