On life…and learning

When You Let Your Performers Go…

with 5 comments

all-the-best-scrapsAs leader of large team, which consists of bright and smart managers, I manage a lot of tough situations. One of the most crucial such situation arises when one of my high-performer team members expresses his or her intentions to move on and pursue other interests; in short, wants to leave the job.

This is indeed a tough moment for any people manager, especially if the team is built painstakingly over years and when it consists of stars who have consistently done well for the team and the organization.

However, I do not baulk at such moments. Neither do I feel bad or act vindictive. In fact, I always feel amused when I hear about how bosses or companies change dramatically as soon as someone declares his intent to quit the job. Right from acting in a rather discourteous manner – ‘How can you?!!’, (As if the employee cheated them by choosing to resign!), to meriting a differential treatment (Why do we need to call him for this meeting, isn’t he leaving?), to alienating the employee altogether, even when he’s serving the notice period. In my book, it all sucks, big time.

Don’t get me wrong; I also do not want my best lieutenants to leave. However, I also feel good when they leave in pursuit of something ambitious; something they find more engaging and rewarding. Over the period of years, I have, should I say, tried to build a culture of sincerity and frankness amongst my teammates about their career aspirations; not only within the team’s boundaries/domain, but also with other functions within the organizations and at times, even with other companies. All my teammates are encouraged to share openly any meetings they have had with other companies and/or offers they get; and since I haven’t witnessed almost anyone of them trying to use this allowance of forthrightness as a tool of negotiation for a promotion/career-advancement with me, I see this honesty paying off.

Every time when a teammate has shared such a development with me, the first thing I’d say “Great! Congrats, mate!” Often thereafter, I get bombarded with questions about the pros-&-cons of the said offer, and in past, three out of five such teammates have left my office with a decision not to leave the job! And even the ones who chose otherwise left with my best wishes!

I follow this approach, as I don’t think staying with the same company till one retires is necessary. Moreover, the Gen-Y young talent doesn’t operate in ‘one-life, one-company’ manner. While I believe working longer years for an organization pays off in long term and don’t think job-hopping every two years is good either, it isn’t certainly a crime to ‘resign’. Merely because one didn’t stay long-term with the team or the company doesn’t make that employee any less valued in my books.

In my view, leaders should take pride in not only their work, but also in the teams they have built. And just the way a great leader or company attracts quality talent; better and greater companies and/or opportunities shall attract the same quality talent away from you at times. Taking pride in your team will help you let go, when merited. After all, would someone have decided to make a non-turn-down-able, lucrative offer to your employees, if they were not any good? When great businesses can get bought, why wouldn’t great talent be hunted for?

All of us did leave some job to join the one we are in; thus, I am a firm advocate of doing a superb job while working for a company, with utmost focus and commitment, giving it all. Yet, I do appreciate if one pursues better opportunities elsewhere. Chances are, and my experience says surely, if your offerings are better, (Read: authenticity, respect, learning & career-opportunities and challenges), all ‘well-meaning’ talent will stick with you for the time your offerings stay this way.

This approach, when deployed authentically, does a few things right for me; it permeates a culture of trust and openness, doesn’t leave anyone harbouring any ill feeling at the time of separation and yet, establishes the fundamental fact that no one is irreplaceable, howsoever outstanding he is at his work. This approach makes me value all my teammates, regard the great performers even more, and yet, helps me not look at them with disdain when they wish to move on.

I would rather engage my teammates by what I can offer fairly, every day, than to keep my best offer saved for the last day. And then, when they still decide to take the plunge, I wish them farewell.

What do you do?


Image-credit: vkrmphoto.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are author’s own and not of the organization he is associated with.

5 Responses

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  1. Dear Sir, I tried but could not comment my words on your wall so emailing you, thogh i know what ever i am writing here has given by you only.   Superb observation and one of the best note by you, after a long interval Sir. Sir I personally believe that people don’t want to leave their jobs especially when they have a boss/mentor/guide like RRG.   I believe that there are classes in all profession and we can divide them into 3 part,   1. Who work for Salary only, 2. Who work with committeemen’s and for good professional growth, 3. Who enjoys taking the challenges (i.e different projects). Apart of there are some genuine people who left jobs not because of salary or big brands but because of their family issues.   Type 1- People work for their salary only most of them are called incompetent people every where you can found them easily, they don’t take initiatives they worries more about their office incoming lunch and outgoing times, they changes their job only when they see that their job is in problem.   Type-2 People are the best people in above category, but the retention for them is not so easy. Job enrichment/increments and proper and advance growth path may help in retention.   Type-3 people are people who take the org on a great height but planning for them must be there, salary part has always been secondary for them, they love to work in projects & challenging projects with decision making authority to certain extent. Their appreciation does matter a lot to them instead of emoluments.. They leave job when org doesn’t offers/provide them proper assignments on time to time.   Retention of talent is being global issue and basic reasons you know well sir.. I am working on this, trying to change appraisal process if all well it will be initially half annually and then becomes quarterly (As monitory benefit plays a very important role to work for and may be taen as great motivator).   I believ, performer may be retained… 🙂   Best Regards Shashikant Singh 9929711882  


    shashikant singh

    January 29, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    • Hi Shashi,
      Well said, most of it. I believe integrity is a key part of performance at work; those who prefer to be valued should earn their stripes first. Merely thinking of self as a performer would tantamount to living in denial.


      January 29, 2013 at 6:37 PM

  2. Very well said ! That is what differentiates between a Leader and a Manager. Gen Y does not look for a manager any more they are looking for a leader who can inspire them.

    I wish manager’s at all levels had a vision like you and open heart so that they can be happy for their reportee personal/professional success.Most of Indian Manager’s really need a reality check on their possesive attitude toward their reportees.


    Puneet Nandwani

    January 30, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    • Puneet, you have put it very well. Thanks. If there is one thing that will keep your employees and teammates stick to you would be the fact that they are meaningfully engaged. That’s where the difference between a leader and a manager becomes even more crucial.
      If the teammate sees success with you and the organization, and isn’t in a tearing hurry himself, he shall remain involved and engaged, without getting distracted by every offer coming his way.


      January 30, 2013 at 7:22 PM

  3. Reblogged this on RRGwrites.


    October 28, 2014 at 11:55 PM

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