How much an organisation cares for you can be gauged by how they respond to you when you are in hardship and when you quit.
I have quoted myself above. A simple thumb rule I implicitly believe in. A good yardstick to measure how much an organisation values an employee.
However, this is not to say that it doesn’t matter how you are treated at all other times. There is no point in ignoring you while you are serving the organisation and making you feel special when you are leaving.
I have seen many bosses and heard of many organizations who treat an employee as persona non grata once she or he resigns. The boss’s demeanor changes. The resignation is viewed as an act of betrayal. Often one hears the boss blurting out “how can you do this to me”? Some team leads turn vicious. In many cases, the organisation’s response is determined by the way the team leader or the big boss approaches a case of resignation. Inappropriate behaviour displayed by the head of department at such a time adversely affects the image of the organisation. The truly mature and secure leaders take it in their stride and wish the employee well. Sadly, the percentage of leaders who handle it right is a small number.
The world does not come to an end if a team member quits. But some bosses don’t seem to get it. How many team leaders view a job switch by a team member from the latter’s point of view? Is the new position good for her or him? Is it a vertical progression? Does the new role allow greater skill expansion? Is there a possibility of benefiting from exposure to a much wider worldview? Only a small percentage of bosses view it from this perspective. Most tend to think how they or their team’s work life will be impacted if the employee quits. Such narrow-mindedness helps no one. No team or organisation comes to a halt if an employee quits. In that sense, no one is indispensable. Bosses would do well to bear this in mind and instead help the team member make the right decision. Sometimes, it may not be possible for an employee to figure out if a new job offer is worth accepting. At such times, she or he should be able to approach the boss and discuss the new offer. And the boss should be able to help the team member arrive at the right decision by laying out the pros and cons associated with the new position. Have you had a boss in your professional career who has truly followed this approach and helped you make the right choice if you have reached out for counsel? If yes, you should consider yourself lucky.
But it’s not just about the exit. What matters immensely is how one’s boss or company reacts when one faces a terrible personal crisis. It could be a serious health hazard, a death in the family, a major accident or domestic trouble which impacts one deeply. Nothing matters more than reaching out at a time when your team member needs support. A small gesture at this stage on the part of the top boss is likely to be viewed by the employee as a giant act of benevolence and remain forever etched in the mind of the beneficiary, strengthening one’s bonding with the boss or the organisation. This is truly invaluable.
It is not uncommon to hear examples of bosses getting it wrong at such times. For instance, blaming the team member of falling sick at a crucial time when there is maximum pressure on the team to deliver. There are many other examples. An insensitive comment at such a time causes great anguish and hurt in the mind of the team member. If as a boss, you are unsure how to react, just put yourself in the shoes of your team member and you will find instant clarity on how to respond.
Leaders should stand by their team members in good and bad times. If, for some reason, they don’t do so during good times, it is okay. But it is imperative to reach out in the times of adversity. Those who don’t get this should never have been leaders.