Recent Trends in Human Resource Management

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

When Employees leave

People are people and so despite every motivator they will leave! They carry an enormous burden of perceptions, assumptions and self-esteem that combine to create a psychological carrying capacity. When the threshold capacity for psychological injuries is crossed, a tectonic shift occurs within the mindscape. The result is very often a precipitate decision: The decision to move on. A minor spark could be the proverbial straw which breaks the camel’s back; lo and beho ld, the resignation is on your desk!

Trust, sensitivity factors

It’s always a wrenching feeling when people leave; the feeling is intensified when top talent or long-time team members resign. If mutual trust exists, the person will share her thought process and keep you informed of the progress of her search for alternative employment. If trust does not exist, you’ll find out only on the eve of the person’s departure. That’s because somehow she wasn’t confident that you wouldn’t interfere with her prospects outside.

So if you didn’t know about your colleague’s impending departure you’d better introspective and ask whether you did in fact damage your relationship in a manner that compromised the other person’s trust in you. As a leader it’s your job to understand and sense changes in the mindscape of people around you. If you are blissfully unaware of the impact you leave on their psyche, you’re like a bull in a china shop! You don’t belong at the top unless you develop a deep sensitivity to people. Without that sensitivity you don’t have a hope of getting the best results from your team and your organisations.

Reasons are many

Sometimes, people leave when they feel suffocated. At other times they’ll leave because they don’t see where their careers are going. They’ll quit if they feel they are being taken for granted or humiliated, or hurt….the reasons are many and often unfathomable. It’s important to understand and respect that people have their own reasons for making major personal decisions.
You cannot demand a ringside seat at the mental drama that culminates in big decisions. And just because they decide without your input you can’t assume that they have made the wrong decision. Worse, you cannot cast aspersions on the new employer! That’s the surest way to reinforce the correctness of your colleague’s decision to quit! As a leader you have to stop expecting everyone to accept you as the fountain of all knowledge. You simply have to respect individual choices and priorities. What you can do is to provide an organisational environment that offers congruence with those choices and priorities.

How do you treat a person who has decided to leave? Assuming that he’s informed you adequately and clearly in advance and has cleaned up properly and that there’s not even a whiff of dishonesty, do you still convey trust and respect?

Or do you simply cut him off from routine information, meetings and activities? Do you disable his email id without notice? Do you ignore him? Do you organise a proper farewell? The answers to these questions can be quite revealing.

Psychological carrying capacity

Remember, the entire organisation is watching, with bated breath, how a person is being treated after he decides to leave. While nobody is willing to discuss it openly with you, be sure that everyone is drawing their own conclusions. They are all learning lessons and altering their own perceptions and assumptions. These are vital ingredients in that go into the making of individual psychological carrying capacities. Organisational motivation and, consequently, the capability to achieve results is critically dependant on the aggregate psychological carrying capacity.

If you’re the CEO or are in some other position of leadership, it’s imperative to get your internal balance right. You have to resist the temptation to control and manipulate everything. And you need to take a somewhat philosophical approach when people choose to leave. What better way than to surrender to Krishna’s cosmic truth when he says in the Gita : “agamapayino anityastham…titikshasva bharata….everything (and everyone) that arrives has to leave since it’s all impermanent anyway, therefore, O Arjuna, tolerate!”


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