The speech that you hear in connection with your departure isn’t necessarily the same as the story that is told about you on Monday morning when someone new is sitting in your chair.
And I have started to wonder why this is the case.
The job market has changed drastically. Seniority has decreased significantly when you consider the time that people stay in the same jobs, but the talents who leave may want to return some years later – wiser and more experienced and ready to support the company they left with renewed energy.
It is a stroke of luck when this happens, and it sends a strong signal internally.
This is another reason why it’s important to keep a good relationship – from both sides – and not make the mistake of pointing fingers of everything that didn’t succeed – and exactly that happens way too often.
When the person who otherwise relished the recognition in the various parting speeches hears the different story that is told after their departure, the speeches and the company in which they were given no longer matter, and the resulting disappointment makes that person turn their back on a company they otherwise served loyally, and their desire to return at some point runs out.
Moreover, they won’t have good recommendations to show if other people contact them. Why would they ask possible new employers to contact a company who spoke highly of them while they were employed but tell a different story when they are no longer with them?
Many people have told me that that’s just the way it is, and it’s commonly accepted, but the question is whether we shouldn’t change what’s currently the case when you leave a company: that you are in the company’s good graces while you are employed, but in their bad graces once you’ve left?
Why not just stop at the fact that the person who’s left has walked the extra mile and created multiple good results and let that stand on its own rather than compare this person to someone new who takes over and has completely different conditions for making a difference.
If we choose to recognise the fact that we all have a role to play in any transition, and that one phase leads to the next – that some people choose to take part in many phases while others choose only to take part in a few or just one phase – we then also recognise the fact that every single one of these people have contributed to the forward movement and collectively made a difference. If you remove one person from this equation, it doesn’t add up.
We must therefore stop pointing fingers at the predecessors and assert ourselves on other’s expense to appear more competent, because we risk ultimately pointing fingers at ourselves and lose respect from the employees we have inherited and need to develop further.
Inwardly, these employees will think that one day they will be the ones to leave – and then every single one of them will face stories that are told after they leave which they can’t necessarily recognise, and they may therefore feel that they should put less energy and passion into their jobs. Ultimately, it’s just a job when the company turns out not to return their loyalty.
If the recognition for your efforts turns out to be a revolving door as one story is told while you are still employed and another is told once you leave, any dream job will turn into a wage-earner position – and the company to a wage-earner organisation – also for the employees who stay in the company and listen to the stories that are told.
Founder of the Global Voices project. Belongingness officer and an experienced People Executive.