It came as a shock to me one day when one of my best employees, Sarah, came in to my office and resigned.
I guess it was such a surprise because she had worked for me for nearly five years and I had relaxed into a belief that she would somehow always be on my team. Stupid me.
Like any bad outcome, we learn from experiences like this. I remained friends with Sarah after she’d moved on to another organization and she later confided that she had been actively recruited away. But what made this information really sting was in learning she probably wouldn’t have entertained the offer had she felt I really valued her.
The truth is I did value her – greatly. And I needed her! But in the complacent belief that after 5 years together she’d likely always be on my team, I stopped consistently demonstrating her value in our interactions. Feeling neglected, she became open to what another employer had to offer. And then she left.
If you’re a leader and you haven’t yet tuned in to watch Undercover Boss, I highly recommend you make it a staple.
Just in case you’ve been living in a cave over the past two years, Undercover Boss – shown Sunday nights on CBS – features a CEO or high ranking executive from a well known American company who’s disguised, given an alias, and sent to work as an “undercover” entry-level employee in their own company.
The undercover boss spends an entire week working side-by-side unsuspecting employees, and returns soon after to reveal his or her true identity and all they have learned about the business and front-line employees.
Nearly 40 million people watched the premier episode of this show in 2010, and it has ranked high in the ratings every since. I believe that Undercover Boss has struck a nerve with viewers who correctly assumed top level executives had a thing or two to learn about the real working lives of subordinates. They know first hand that leaders today are out of touch with their people – and what support they need in order to be fully engaged at work.
To that point, what does it say about leadership today that we can disguise a CEO in a tee shirt, cap and jeans and not a single employee recognizes him in the course of an entire week?
I’d like for you to think back on all the bosses you’ve had in your life and identify which one of them was the best ever.
Once you have that person in mind, take a look at these two lists of attributes and see if one isn’t more descriptive:
It’s not much of a stretch for me to predict the greatest leader you’ve ever worked for is best described by the qualities of Leader A. These are the higher consciousness-related characteristics of people who lead from the heart – and to great effect as you can attest.
Now I’d like for you to consider the descriptor “High Expectations” and determine under which list it best belongs – Leader A or B?
I had coffee with an old friend this week and, by the end of our conversation, I had the content for this week’s post.
My friend, Kelsey, was a human resources manager when I first met her 30 years ago. Sitting across from her in her office one afternoon, I endured the most grueling and stressful interview of my life. Gratefully, things worked out and she hired me into my first career-level position after college; we’ve been friends ever since.
As background, Kelsey is characteristically no nonsense and direct in her business dealings, and not generally one who displays her feelings to others. She’s the managing director of an executive outplacement firm that provides professional coaching to employees who’ve lost their jobs through layoff or job elimination.
Over the past several years, her firm has been extremely busy. Not only have more managers been out of work, but new career opportunities have been scarce. As a result, she and her team have had to work longer to help clients define their strengths, construct effective resumes and prepare themselves for interviews to compete for prime positions.
That it’s taking people longer to find employment has changed the dynamics of Kelsey’s job. Where in the past, her relationships with clients were brief and superficial, recently she’s had time – and had to take the time – to know them more personally. And because Kelsey’s been able to establish greater intimacy with these clients, she made an interesting discovery.
Kelsey found that many people were stymied (paralyzed even) in their efforts to move forward in their job search because they lacked meaningful resolution with their previous employer.
Over and over, clients described the same process of how they were let go.