One of my very valued readers sent me a note recently that read thus:
“When asked, leaders often say that ‘their people’ and ‘the culture’ are very important to them. The true test, I believe, comes not only when hiring people but more tellingly, when people are asked to leave.
How does the company behave towards those people it is making redundant or having to let go? How are they spoken about and how will they (the people who have left) speak about the company afterwards?”
Over the years I have heard leaders say that they would always want people who are leaving the business for whatever reason to go as “good leavers” rather than bad ones.
That is a laudable objective: logically we would always prefer to have people in the community speaking well of the business and whenever we can achieve that goal than all the better.
Research has told us that, on average, people will tell friends and acquaintances of a bad experience approximately 13 times while they will relate the story of a good experience only twice.
That is a daunting prospect and strengthens the assertion that what leaders want are people leaving the business, if not necessarily happy, then at least in a frame of mind which understands and accepts that the parting was necessary or even inevitable.
I do not believe that an acceptable parting must always devolve on a financial arrangement. Certainly it is essential to do the right thing by the individual in whatever way is most appropriate.
For example, the retention of a car for a period after leaving, offering the facilities of an outplacement organisation and even assisting then with the legal aspects of the situation are all positive and help to develop an atmosphere of reason and objectivity.
It goes without saying that all aspects of employment law must be followed without exception but it can still be done in an adult and reasonable way.
Certainly we need to hire people on the basis of their attitude rather than merely experience and/or skills and we will tend to have people leave for exactly the same reasons.
Remember also; people don’t normally leave companies, they leave managers and it is incumbent on leaders to ensure that the right culture spreads throughout the business at all levels.
The art of promoting, hiring and firing is to ensure that people are always engaged and when they eventually do leave the business it will be with at least a handshake rather than a tribunal.
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