answered by Fred Gibbs, lives in Seattle, WA (2002-present)
This actually happened to me about 7 years ago. My office manager left me after 10 years.
I would ask why she was leaving? More to see if there is a problem that I don’t see. I asked her for a recommendation, who she would promote to take over here position. it was a pleasant conversation over lunch.
Found out her husband was offered a chance of a lifetime position in Portland. She didn’t, so I offered to make a couple of calls to some small practices in Portland. She accepted one of the offers and is now a junior partner.
Wish her the best of luck and let her know she will be missed and is welcome back. If your best employee is leaving, you need to know if there is a problem, so you can fix it, second if they were your best employee, they are probably going to a position that they think is better suited for them. If it isn’t why not keep the door open so they can return. Employees aren’t a zero-sum game where one side has to lose for the other to win, so don’t treat it like that.