Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Take this employee and shove them

A few months ago, someone I know decided to leave one company and take a job at another company. Happens all the time.

On their final day of work, this person ran into someone from upper management. And what happened next was one of those juicy, teachable moments that would make for a perfect Harvard Business Review blog post.

A bit of back story. The individual in question worked for the same company for a few years. Not only that, they recently participated in a couple of company-sponsored extra-curricular creative projects on their own time. Not only did this bonus work demonstrate initiative, but it served as evidence that the company was taking a new approach to problem solving. (In fact, one of the creative projects this person developed was prominently featured on the company’s website.)

So when this person ran into Someone Important From Upper Management (SIFUM), they assumed that SIFUM would A) be aware they were leaving the company and B) would have something pleasant to say to them given their years at the company plus the aforementioned bonus work.

As it turns out, SIFUM acknowledged that it was the person’s last day at the company only after being prompted. And then silence. The SIFUM failed to wish the person well in their new role, or thank them for their time and contributions to the company.

This made the person I know angry and disillusioned. You can bet they will tell this story to many, many people. And if someone asks her or him if they should work at SIFUM’s company, she or he will tell the above story as way to illustrate the significant blind spots in the company’s culture.

A quick compliment would have cost the SIFUM nothing. Their silence, on the other hand, might turn out to be very expensive.