Make Transitions Smooth

I’ll bet that each of us can remember a time we left an organization and the process of leaving was mutually smooth for both parties.  At the same time I’m willing to bet that each of us have dreaded the day that we dared to resign, because from that day forward we were treated like we had the plague or leprosy and they couldn’t wait to kick us out the door.

It is for the benefit of both the company and the employee that both endeavor to make exit transitions smooth.  Although it is not uncommon for employers to accept the resignation as immediate and pay the employee through the notice period, I fail to see the logic in this practice unless the employee has proven to be a threat to national security in the past.  A smooth transition allows all work processes to pass from one party to another with minimal disruption.

I had one employer that was panicked that I would be letting fellow employees and vendors know the “real reasons” I was leaving.  They offered me a large sum of “hush” money and wanted me to sign that my silence would be taken to the grave.  I passed on the offer.  When you are an unethical organization like this one was, I can see the concern that would engage such a reaction because they wanted to keep a lid on the truth.  Funny thing about the truth is it always gets out eventually.  In my case, everyone knew why I was resigning and wondered what took me so long to make the decision.

When companies are angry or feel defensive over an employee resigning, there is too much emotion to make a transition smooth.  Both parties need to take the emotion out of the process and focus on what is best for the organization and the customers.  Spending less time on damage control and more time on understanding what needs to be completed by the successor to the role is more important. 

I’d like to recommend that both the company and the employee that has decided to resign be prepared for this event.  Both should create a list of transition steps and an agreed upon date for implementation.  This avoids last day items from appearing too early in the notice period and looking like the employee is being pushed out.

The benefits of a smooth transition are many, but in my mind it leaves both parties still feeling good about each other.  When there is minimal animosity on the last days then there is also little chance the “real reasons” will ever be revealed.  I believe that most people can forgive and forget things in the workplace over time, as long as the final days are respectful.

Little Things Mean A Lot

When I was recently asked what floats my boat in the world of business relationships, I answered so quickly that I was fascinated at what came out of my mouth.  I said, “when people return my phone calls and emails.”

I don’t ask for much in this world, really, and yet when I realized that people who are courteous enough to reply to me acknowledge that I am worth the time of day to them.  Little things do mean a lot to me, and while it may seem insignificant, let’s examine how returning phone calls and emails increases personal productivity.

When we call to talk with someone, it is usually for a reason.  We seek information, confirmation, or to establish the next step.  Although a call is usually more urgent than an email, both are seeking the same things.  So when you send an email, or leave a voice message, the first thing that crosses your mind is when will they get this information?

As time passes without any acknowledgement from the receiver of your message, you begin to wonder if they even got the information.  Now you don’t want to look like you forgot them, so you call again, or send another email.  “Did you get my message?”  Time passes and you begin to wonder if technology is working, or is the receiver just ignoring you.

You may try a few more times, and then give up.  Tenacious sales people will call a hundred times until they reach you, and by then you are so tired of their calls you really don’t want anything to do with them.  On the other hand, what if the receiver is ill, on vacation, in meetings, or died?  Maybe I should call again.

Now imagine that the email was replied to with, “thanks for the information, I will get back to you by Friday.”  Well, all wondering ceases to exist and you wait until Friday before the process begins again.  You can actually concentrate on other tasks and free your mind of thinking about this person and whether they received your message.

What floats my boat in business relationships is a person that respects their own time, as well as my time.  When they take the seconds necessary to reply to me, it saves us both a lot of wasted time and allows us to both be more productive.  It is also something we used to call common courtesy.  Oh dear, I’m revealing my age again.

Knowing When To Walk

I’ve been in the workforce for 33 years, and have had a few jobs along the way, and several employers and managers.  Since my early years were in the financial services industry when they were buying, selling and closing banks right and left, I got used to leaving companies before I was ready.  Later, it was an odd experience to leave an employer that was still open for business.

Yet, knowing when to leave a company and a job has never been my strong suit.  I always stay too long and regret having not left sooner.  I will come up with one long list of reasons why things could change or things will get better.  Circumstances in my mind have always been temporary and subject to change, so why not just wait it out?

But folks, this is an insane way to run your career!  Putting the needs of your employer first is noble and I believe part of a solid relationship between employee and employer.  But when this becomes a one-way street, and the employee is always giving and the employer is always taking, it is time to walk.

I am the same kind of manager, and will often give people more rope than is necessary, yet when I have had to terminate an employee for performance I have always felt that I did everything I could.  Yet when I am the employee, I give the employer way too much rope.  My encouragement for all of you is to work constantly on your relationships, but draw the line somewhere so when it is crossed, you know to get out.  Don’t wait longer and continue to abuse yourself.  Get on with your career and find greener grass!

Know what your goals are, and take a few minutes, at least quarterly, and decide if where you are working, and what you are doing is a match.  If not, then make plans to move into a better environment.  Don’t wait as long as I have because you are physically and mentally exhausted by the time you make a change.

And instead of putting all the blame on your manager, team mates or the company, take the personal accountability for your decision to stay or walk.

Compensation & Productivity

There are many studies that point to the lack of increased productivity after someone has been given an increase in their salary.  And although the same studies will note a modest increase in productivity in some employees after a salary increase, they are quick to note that it is a temporary lift.  Once an employee gets used to the new salary, productivity will revert to the previous levels.  So what do you think about decreasing compensation to motivate increased productivity?

Suppose you have a commission sales force selling your product, and your sales are down for the previous year and things are not looking any better so far this year.  To increase profits it is determined that we need to pay the sales force less money.  Somehow that will increase sales and make more money?

Another company is in the middle of launching some aggressive skill building programs and then the 1st quarter sales results came in lower than expected.  The way to off set reduced sales was determined by eliminating training thus saving money.  So if I understand this correctly, the focus is on reducing expenses, when the issue is increasing sales.

Compensation is a tool that can motivate certain behaviors.  At the same time if you remove compensation, you will rarely if ever increase productivity.  Most of the time the only increase productivity you will get from the employee is in looking for another job!

By decreasing income, or training which is also seen as a benefit, you are sending the signal that you are putting less into this employer-employee relationship.  So why on earth would any sane person believe the employee would react in a positive way?  Instead of the little extras this employee might be doing for the company, they now see themselves as doing and giving less in this relationship to offset the decreased compensation

You have heard of the phrase “You get what you pay for?”  How about this new phrase, “You don’t get what you don’t pay for?”