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Saying goodbye systemically
Many people who are trained in systemic work are familiar with ‘systemic divorce’. This method was developed years ago by Jan Jacob Stam and is also included in the book Systemic Coaching. The method can be used in a setting where you facilitate a constellation, or in systemic coaching. It is basically a ritual that can help someone say goodbye (even after having left the system long ago) and in that way free themselves for a new (work) relationship, job, etc.
I recently got a question from one of our participants: How do I properly say goodbye to an employee?
In my time as manager, I found ways to ‘translate’ the elements in the process of systemic divorce into a farewell speech. Because saying goodbye and unravelling systems can also be done at a farewell reception. Or in a 1-on-1 exit conversation. Or in a letter confirming the dismissal and wishing the former employee all the best.
A farewell speech could then go something like this:
“Dear …, you have worked for this organization for x years. And in those years, you undoubtedly gave us a lot, such as your time, attention, knowledge, passion, professionalism etc. And in those years, you undoubtedly also received a lot from the organization, such as salary, training, experience, compliments etc. Maybe you had wished that you had received more or other things, or maybe the organization had wished you had given more or other things. Maybe you gave less or more than you received. Sometimes, you give more than you receive and sometimes you receive more than you give. This means there could be an imbalance… maybe you can feel it or maybe not… How would it feel if we release each other from any claims in that regard? That we don’t have to be redeemed in any way? We each clear any imbalances, today.
And perhaps in the giving, you have also given something of yourself, something of a different magnitude, which really can only belong to you. For example, your heart, your passion, your self-confidence. We have enjoyed it until now. And now… please take it back. Take it with you, it’s yours, and you might need it for the rest of your life or in your next job. When you walk out of here (usually I check what gifts someone has been given and use that…) with your bottle of wine, flowers and everything you have received; please take that with you too.”
And of course, you adjust the words to suit what the person has actually given or taken.
The more managers dare to say goodbye to their employees in such a complete way, the better new employees can commit to the organization. (And the better your ex-employee will be able to fulfil his or her next suitable position).
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People are constantly evolving. With each other, without each other. In families, in teams, in organizations. Systemic thinking makes us aware of the “why” of our being and doing. Organizational and family constellations create room for movement. The BHI provides courses, workshops and training programs in the field of systemic work, constellations, leadership and coaching. This is how we contribute to the development of people, organizations and society.