“But, how could I possibly know, a year in the future, what my team members will do?” Melanie asked. “I don’t even know what I am going to do a year from now.”
“That’s an interesting question,” I replied. “What questions could you ask? Think about the two supervisors you just lost, who graduated from night school. What questions could you have asked?”
“Well, I could have asked them if they were going to night school.”
I smiled. “You already told me you knew they were going to night school, so somehow you managed to ask that question. Think deeper. Think further into the future.”
Melanie’s mind began to crank. “I could have asked them what they were studying. I could have asked why that interested them. What they hoped would happen as a result of going to school.”
“And if you had known the answers to those questions?” I prompted.
“I guess I would have found out if what they wanted was something they could find here, in our company.”
“But you didn’t get that chance, did you?” -Tom
“This is all spilt milk, anyway,” Melanie snorted. “I know I have to step up, get out there, put an ad in the paper. I have gone through this before, third time this year.”
“I know,” I nodded. “I read the exit interviews. Did you know that two of the three supervisors that left you this year graduated from night school?”
Melanie’s eyes got wide. “Well, I knew they were going to school at night.”
“Did you know they had new jobs lined up three months before they graduated?”
“Well, I thought that was all talk. I didn’t pay attention to that.”
“I know you didn’t pay attention. If you had paid attention, you would have three months advance time to make a different move, prepare a new supervisor to take over. Now, you have to scramble. Melanie, the only reason you still have a job, here, as a manager, is that you are a pretty good scrambler. But, one day, you won’t be able to scramble and you’ll get sacked for a loss.”
“I feel let down,” Melanie lamented. “One of my team members, Kyle, just quit. I don’t know how I am going to explain this to the CEO. He has a short temper for this kind of thing. The worst part, I’m just the messenger, but likely to get the brunt of it.”
“Why do you feel you are just the messenger?” I asked.
Melanie moved her head back, almost startled. “I am not sure what you mean,” she said. “I’m not the one who quit. I am just the one who has to report it upstairs.”
“You’re Kyle’s manager?” I confirmed.
“Well, yes, but Kyle is the one who quit.”
“I understand Kyle is the one who quit and I am also curious to know who is responsible for the team that is now missing a member with a backlog that is going to crunch an important deadline?”
“But, Kyle is the one who quit,” Melanie protested. “You can’t hold me accountable for the pickle we’re in. I know I am the manager, but what am I supposed to do?”
Ray was looking at his list. “So, I can count on losing this person. They already gave their notice. And I know they will continue to have contact with the other team members, so I know they will talk with each other.”
“Yes, they will talk. And they will talk about money. And money will appear to be the only reason to work at one company versus another. In what way can you, as a manager, put this in perspective for your team. In what way can you effectively communicate, effectively remind people about the other reasons people work, the other reasons people work here?”
Ray was shaking his head, then nodding his head. “So, it turns out that our team culture is really important after all.”
“Yes, when we sit and talk about job satisfaction, matching people’s talents with job requirements, matching people’s capability with the challenge level in the position, creating a trusting work environment, you think I am talking about being warm and fuzzy. The reason that stuff is important, the reason you have to pay attention, is to win this war against competitors. And you can’t win it with money.
“And if all your competitor has to offer is money, then you will make it very expensive for them. And in the end, their cost structure will be out of whack, and you will still win your customers. Culture eats the competition for breakfast.”
Amazon’s promotion on my new book Hiring Talent continues. Special pricing.