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[Article] Treat people well when they leave and keep your ambassadors!


Jimi Wikman
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So, one of your employees are leaving the company. Your first instinct is to kick them out as fast as possible and if something goes wrong you probably will not go out of your way to fix the situation. This is a terrible idea as you will make that person less inclined to talk well about you in the future!

The employee have spent time in your company and they probably liked you when they started. Had hopes and dreams of what the time with you would be that either was not fulfilled or their dreams changed during the time with you.

Unless you already screwed up your relation with the employee by being a bad company that care more about your spreadsheets than the heroes that work for you, then you have a great opportunity when someone leave. You can both learn how to be a better company and secure an ambassador that will work for you even after they leave the company!

Leaving a company is usually done with relief if the time have been less than enjoyable or with guilt if it have been a great time. Regardless of what situation you can turn it to something good by simply being nice and support the employee. Just express that you are sorry that they are leaving and then go out of your way to make the transition as easy as possible for them.

I am not saying that you should trip all over yourself to get rid of them, but take some time to sit down with them and go over what will happen next so they feel that you are there for them. Have lunch with them and have some laughs and reminisce about good times you hopefully have together.

Ask them about the reason for moving on without trying to push the issue. Some people don't want to tell you their reasons so respect that. Most importantly if something during the transition to end the employment is causing issues for the employee, then fix it. Even if it is a cost involved and your instinct is to not spend money on someone that is leaving, take that cost because it is an investment!

On that last day of the employment have a moment together with as many as you can to say goodbye to the employee. Show that you will miss the person and give a gift that really matter. Don't give them a book (unless they really like books), but give them something that is a little expensive, but still not to much.

My favorite is an iPad mini in gold with an inscription on the back saying something like "We will miss you like crazy Name! - Company Name". It's a little pricy, but the value you get in return is worth a thousand times more. You can also add a little poster or something where everyone closest to the employee have written their names and a nice farewell message (personalized if possible).

A former employee will talk about you, that is natural as you have been in their life for a while and work is the majority of our time after all. You can dictate how that conversation will go based on how the last few weeks are with your company.

If you treat them well and go out of your way to show that they have been an important part of the company and that them leaving does not change your perception of them, then they leave with nothing but good will in their hearts.

For as long as they can remember you they will speak well of you and if they should not be happy in their new workplace chances are that they will remember you and possibly ask to come back. Having that iPad means that every time they use it that feeling will be reinforced as well and most people do use the iPad quite a bit.

There is an old saying that say that even if you have had the best vacation in your life with the best hotel, great weather and the best time of your life, all it takes is a bad experience on the flight home to ruin the experience. The last experience is what we remember most.

So if you give an employee a bad experience leaving the company, or worse screw them over so they get mad they will speak of that forever. As they know inside information about your company they will speak loudly to anyone that listen about every little detail you make look bad and sooner or later that will cost you business for sure.

So treat your employees well while they work for you so they don't want to leave and should they still want to leave, make it the best experience possible. In return you will have someone that will speak well of you and they will defend you long after they have left your company.

It's the smart, and right, move to make.


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      It seems that the terms "leader" and "manager" are used a bit casually when you look at role descriptions and titles. The thing though is that they are not interchangeable, but actually have a very distinct definition in my opinion. Leaders lead and managers manage after all and those are two different skill sets.
      Are you a project manager or project leader? That is a question almost no one ever ask, because in most people's mind they are the same. I would argue however that it is not because for me there is a very big difference between someone who lead and someone who manage.
       
      A manager manage.
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      - Wikipedia
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      Henri Fayol have a definition I think is quite accurate:  "to manage is to forecast and to plan, to organize, to command, to co-ordinate and to control."
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      Managers focus on the promise of delivery.
       
      A leader lead.
      "A leader is one who influences or leads others. 
      Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to "lead" or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations. Specialist literature debates various viewpoints, contrasting Eastern and Western approaches to leadership, and also (within the West) United States versus European approaches. U.S. academic environments define leadership as "a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task"
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      Unlike management, leadership cannot be taught, although it may be learned and enhanced through coaching or mentoring. Erika Andersen, author of "Leading So People Will Follow," says, like most things – leadership capability falls along a bell curve. So the fact is that most folks who start out with a modicum of innate leadership capability can actually become very good, even great leaders.
      We can define a leader and someone who possess a degree of leadership. Leadership can be defined as "The act of inspiring subordinants to perform and engage in achieving a goal."

      In order to have others follow you, you need leadership skills and the respect of those that you lead. Empathy is a crucial skill as is charisma and compassion. As a leader you are also responsible for the promise of delivery and need organizational and strategic planning skills. It is just less required than for a manager.
      Leaders focus on the promise to take care of the people.
       
      Blurred lines between manager and leader.
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      I think this is important because as long as we mix these roles when describing what role we actually are looking for, then we will continue to get the wrong skill set. This is even more confusing when adding a role definition based on an ability such as leadership.
      Are you a sword or a shield?
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      Both of these types of managers are needed in an organization and you can often see the correlation when an organization are over representing one of the two. To many swords lead to a detached workforce and health issues among the teams. To many shields lead to difficulties to grow and economical issues.
      In my perfect world we have a mix of both types throughout the organization. A higher focus on swords are at the top of the hierarchy and a higher focus on the shields are at the bottom. If we combine this with good communication and an organization model that focus work, then you have a perfect work environment.
      So...are you a manager, or a leader?
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      It seems that the terms "leader" and "manager" are used a bit casually when you look at role descriptions and titles. The thing though is that they are not interchangeable, but actually have a very distinct definition in my opinion. Leaders lead and managers manage after all and those are two different skill sets.
      Are you a project manager or project leader? That is a question almost no one ever ask, because in most people's mind they are the same. I would argue however that it is not because for me there is a very big difference between someone who lead and someone who manage.
       
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      "Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a not-for-profit organization, or government body. Management includes the activities of setting the strategy of an organization and coordinating the efforts of its employees (or of volunteers) to accomplish its objectives through the application of available resources, such as financial, natural, technological, and human resources. The term "management" may also refer to those people who manage an organization. "
      - Wikipedia
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      Henri Fayol have a definition I think is quite accurate:  "to manage is to forecast and to plan, to organize, to command, to co-ordinate and to control."
      Managers need strong skills in strategic planning and structured organization. As they often do not directly work with the people they manage they don't need strong charisma or empathic abilities. That is not to say that managers have these abilities, just that it is less required than for leaders.
      Managers focus on the promise of delivery.
       
      A leader lead.
      "A leader is one who influences or leads others. 
      Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to "lead" or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations. Specialist literature debates various viewpoints, contrasting Eastern and Western approaches to leadership, and also (within the West) United States versus European approaches. U.S. academic environments define leadership as "a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task"
      Someone with the title leader is someone who directly interact with the people they lead. These are people who manage day to day activities within the team to ensure that the team are doing well. Leaders work downwards towards the team they lead and will shield them from the demands from those higher up in the organization.
      Unlike management, leadership cannot be taught, although it may be learned and enhanced through coaching or mentoring. Erika Andersen, author of "Leading So People Will Follow," says, like most things – leadership capability falls along a bell curve. So the fact is that most folks who start out with a modicum of innate leadership capability can actually become very good, even great leaders.
      We can define a leader and someone who possess a degree of leadership. Leadership can be defined as "The act of inspiring subordinants to perform and engage in achieving a goal."

      In order to have others follow you, you need leadership skills and the respect of those that you lead. Empathy is a crucial skill as is charisma and compassion. As a leader you are also responsible for the promise of delivery and need organizational and strategic planning skills. It is just less required than for a manager.
      Leaders focus on the promise to take care of the people.
       
      Blurred lines between manager and leader.
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      I think this is important because as long as we mix these roles when describing what role we actually are looking for, then we will continue to get the wrong skill set. This is even more confusing when adding a role definition based on an ability such as leadership.
      Are you a sword or a shield?
      This is a question I often ask when someone tell me they are a manager or a leader of some sort. Being a sword means that you will sacrifice the people to fulfill the promise of delivery. A shield on the other hand will protect the people even if it means sacrificing the promise of delivery.
      Both of these types of managers are needed in an organization and you can often see the correlation when an organization are over representing one of the two. To many swords lead to a detached workforce and health issues among the teams. To many shields lead to difficulties to grow and economical issues.
      In my perfect world we have a mix of both types throughout the organization. A higher focus on swords are at the top of the hierarchy and a higher focus on the shields are at the bottom. If we combine this with good communication and an organization model that focus work, then you have a perfect work environment.
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      For many years Scrum had three questions that was the law to regurgitate every daily meeting:
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      This is even more emphasized in the statement of the benefits of the daily stand-up:
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      How do we make this better?
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      We do this because questions and doubt are the bane of productivity and team health.
      The first thing we do is to remove the time cap. Our minds are very sensitive to time and performance under pressure, so we remove that. Instead, we add a 30-minute slot every morning where we spend as much time as we need. Sometimes it is just 5 minutes, sometimes we extend the 30 minutes and change it into another type of meeting.
      The second thing we do is remove the need to report what has been done. This is the cause of much anxiety and in a healthy team you should not need that type of information anyway. Instead, we focus on questions, impediments and requests for help. We make sure everyone in the team get a chance to speak, and we make sure that everyone feel safe, so they dare to say what is on their mind. This is important because one thing we want to capture is if time estimates need to be extended or if new tasks might be needed.
      We sort things that come up as team related or personal, so we can focus on the team related issues first and then take personal questions after the meeting to make the disruption as small as possible. To make this disruption even smaller we put the daily meeting as early as possible without limiting peoples freedom. This means that you most likely have people in the team that have kids or other family situations that require them to have some flexibility in the morning and afternoon. 9 or 10 are common times, but you can just as well do this after lunch for example. The aim is to avoid disrupting the team as content switching is bad.
      The final part is for the team lead and architect to inform the team of things happening outside the team that is relevant to the team.
      I strongly suggest that you make this daily meeting as comfortable as possible instead of actually making it an actual stand-up. The reason for that is that most people are more likely to raise questions and ask for help when they are comfortable. If you can align this around a coffee break or breakfast, then that is excellent.
      The summary:
      Schedule the meeting as early as possible without limiting the flexibility of your team members. Go around the team and let everyone ask questions, request help and raise concerns if there are any. Team lead and Architect give information relevant for the team. Confirm activities such as additional meetings or request for information or to solve impediments Grab some water or coffee and then return to work again. I find that these types of daily meetings often lead to better productivity for the simple reason that people feel less stressed when they get information and can get their problems solved. The outcome of these meetings often lead to technical discussions to answer technical questions and sometimes new activities to refactor things that might not have been captured otherwise.
      So if you are stuck in a daily routine of regurgitating Jira numbers where you feel the need to adjust numbers a bit just to look good, then I suggest you give this approach a try instead. 
      Management by fear and intimidation is a poor substitute for making your team feel safe and informed.

      View full blog article
    • By Jimi Wikman
      If you have worked in IT in the past 10-15 years or so, you probably have endured the endless regurgitation of meaningless information in a daily stand-up. You have probably felt the anxiety of being judged and been annoyed over your teammates doctoring their results to look more productive. You probably also wished you did not have to go to the meetings once or twice. What if I told you there is a better way to manage daily stand-ups? Because there is.
      First let us figure out what the purpose of a daily stand-up is and where it comes from. The need to organize groups and to collaborate is as old as time itself and while many consider the daily stand-up, or daily scrum to originate from the Scrum framework, that is not true. Regular meetings have been a common practice since long before Scrum, and it is also why it is the most used aspect of Scrum in less than Agile work processes.
      What Scrum did however was to add psychological stress to the formula with the intent of increasing productivity. This was done by putting emphasis on proof of progress rather than collaboration. It is an effective way to shame people into becoming more productive, and it is a typical behavior for extroverts to seek the admiration and praise of others. The downside is increased levels of stress, which is counterproductive. In many cases it also leads to manipulation of data and fragmentation of work, especially in continuous delivery situations where people tend to work on multiple things at the same time.
      For many years Scrum had three questions that was the law to regurgitate every daily meeting:
      What did I do yesterday that helped the development team meet the sprint goal? What will I do today to help the development team meet the sprint goal? Do I see any impediment that prevents me or the development team from meeting the sprint goal? In the 2020 scrum guide they have backed off from this a bit, but they still focus on the feeling of guilt by pushing the conversation towards progress.
      This is even more emphasized in the statement of the benefits of the daily stand-up:
      Again this is clearly written from the perspective of an extrovert because for many introverts this is NOT a forum for improved communication. The idea that the daily stand-up eliminate the need for other meetings is not true. It most certainly can consolidate questions into a more focused forum, which does reduce the need to bother developers and others multiple times, but you often find reasons for more meetings, not less.
      How do we make this better?
      Let us first decide why we want to have daily meetings in the first place. The most obvious reason is to gain control. This is how most managers that are detached from the team see the daily stand-up because it is the only way they can stay on top of things, so they can look good in other meetings. That is not what daily stand-ups are for however and as a manger you should instead manage your time and make sure you work with the team and not act as a proxy.
      The reason we have daily stand-up should be to make sure everyone in the team have a voice and to make sure everyone is informed. By making sure everyone in the team get a voice we can find impediments and help each other solve problems. We can lift concerns and ask questions in a safe setting that allow the team to feel safe. It allows for a common forum for information, so everyone can feel that they have the information they need at all times.
      We do this because questions and doubt are the bane of productivity and team health.
      The first thing we do is to remove the time cap. Our minds are very sensitive to time and performance under pressure, so we remove that. Instead, we add a 30-minute slot every morning where we spend as much time as we need. Sometimes it is just 5 minutes, sometimes we extend the 30 minutes and change it into another type of meeting.
      The second thing we do is remove the need to report what has been done. This is the cause of much anxiety and in a healthy team you should not need that type of information anyway. Instead, we focus on questions, impediments and requests for help. We make sure everyone in the team get a chance to speak, and we make sure that everyone feel safe, so they dare to say what is on their mind. This is important because one thing we want to capture is if time estimates need to be extended or if new tasks might be needed.
      We sort things that come up as team related or personal, so we can focus on the team related issues first and then take personal questions after the meeting to make the disruption as small as possible. To make this disruption even smaller we put the daily meeting as early as possible without limiting peoples freedom. This means that you most likely have people in the team that have kids or other family situations that require them to have some flexibility in the morning and afternoon. 9 or 10 are common times, but you can just as well do this after lunch for example. The aim is to avoid disrupting the team as content switching is bad.
      The final part is for the team lead and architect to inform the team of things happening outside the team that is relevant to the team.
      I strongly suggest that you make this daily meeting as comfortable as possible instead of actually making it an actual stand-up. The reason for that is that most people are more likely to raise questions and ask for help when they are comfortable. If you can align this around a coffee break or breakfast, then that is excellent.
      The summary:
      Schedule the meeting as early as possible without limiting the flexibility of your team members. Go around the team and let everyone ask questions, request help and raise concerns if there are any. Team lead and Architect give information relevant for the team. Confirm activities such as additional meetings or request for information or to solve impediments Grab some water or coffee and then return to work again. I find that these types of daily meetings often lead to better productivity for the simple reason that people feel less stressed when they get information and can get their problems solved. The outcome of these meetings often lead to technical discussions to answer technical questions and sometimes new activities to refactor things that might not have been captured otherwise.
      So if you are stuck in a daily routine of regurgitating Jira numbers where you feel the need to adjust numbers a bit just to look good, then I suggest you give this approach a try instead. 
      Management by fear and intimidation is a poor substitute for making your team feel safe and informed.
    • By Jimi Wikman
      I must admit that I am amused at the sheer number of posts that flood the Internet the last months that all revolve around how to make remote teamwork work. They all seem share one common thing and that is that they are written by, or for, managers. The thing is though that for most of us that work in IT this has worked for decades and it is for many of us a part of our daily routine.
      It is with a sad smile that I see the complete hysteria from middle and upper management when it comes to working from remote. It is as if the last 20 years of advancement in that area never actually reached this group. Their futile need for control and the withdrawal symptoms from not getting your daily meeting "fix" is in my eyes nothing new, but it becomes so very obvious in times of crisis.
      We see large organizations cutting away their workforce and while they try to trim away across the organization it is pretty obvious that it is people who are close to the consumers that suffer the most. Stores, restaurants, hotels and travel are all sadly on the brink of extinction. On the technical side of things we see less work as well, but not because the work is no longer needed, but because investments are more careful when the cash flow is less stable.
      We see an upswing for collaboration tools such as Miro and Trello while at least my daily feed is filled to the brink of articles on how to remain productive from remote. Most articles are so basic that I have to wonder who they are written for as most development teams have this as part of their daily work. Things like "focus on direct calls instead of chat" and "make sure your team know how to reach you" is utterly ridiculous however and in many articles I feel like I am being patronized and addressed like a five year old.
      Working from home is not something that should be strange or confusing in 2020. If you do not have work processes that work for that, then I would argue that you have been neglecting to evolve as an organization for a long time. To be a manager that are having problems functioning within a remote teamwork environment is not only a liability in this crisis, but for the foreseeable future. If you are having issues with that now, then I suggest you start looking into improving that right now. It is a skill that you must have in this day and age.
      The silver lining with this situation however is that many organizations now are forced to transform. We see it already that some larger organizations are reducing the middle management section for faster communication and more direct management. Meetings are heavily reduced, which is because many meetings at middle management levels are just to transfer information. In a remote workforce that is wasteful, so sharing information are done more efficiently.
      We also see how badly communication between business, IT and Operations are working. I don't think I have seen this many articles about DevOps or Incident Management in the last decade. I have seen a big upswing in Quality Assurance discussions, especially surrounding requirements and facilitating workshop on remote. Portfolio management is on the rise and I get more questions about Portfolio for Jira, BigPicture and Structure than I think I have ever had. Clearly people are in need of ways to get an overview of the work to satisfy their need for control.
      It is also interesting that I have not seen a single request for Jira Align...
      While business and management are in a bit of panic mode at the moment I see the opposite in the development and test areas. People are working well from home and I see productivity is skyrocketing. The pressure on management is increasing to get better requirements and improve communication, but as long as the development teams get the information they need, then they are golden it seems. I hear people are less stressed, better focused and I even hear that things like system stability and technical debt is getting a bit of focus lately.
      I hope that this crisis can lead to some change in management in the long run. Having more time to actually think and being forced to learn how to communicate more efficiently should benefit management greatly. Having the tools and processes to work from remote is a good way to future proof your organization. I also hope more managers will realize that working from home does not make you less productive. In fact it will greatly benefit some groups that not only can get more focused, but also can work when they are most productive.
      If you are a manager that are struggling with remote teamwork, then don't chase articles that give you platitudes and nonsense advice. Talk to your development teams instead. They most likely already have this in place for working from home or to collaborate with other teams or offshore. Take this opportunity to slow down, process the information and then communicate it clearly instead of just running all the time. If you lack the tools or infrastructure to work efficiently on remote, then invest in it now. It is a good investment, not just for a crisis like the current one, but also for meeting the future demands of the employees.
      Embrace Remote Teamwork, just like the rest of us did back in 2005. 😉
      DISCUSS REMOTE TEAMWORK IN THE FORUM
       

      View full blog article

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