Change is a wonderful thing unless you don’t expect it and comes as a complete surprise  … How many times have you been in that situation?  As a consultant I love change, I thrive on change … but I’m not sure I would given the context below…

I was having dinner with a friend just a few weeks ago catching up in the new year with a couple of glasses of champagne and a good old gossip instead it turned into a night with her moaning about her manager, her organisation and how she hated where she worked … Oops how can I make an excuse and get out of here?  I stayed and listened and I started thinking how easy it is for an organisation to ruin in moments what they had spent years developing in their employees.

She’s worked for her employer about 6 years – she’s been through a lot with them, she’s worked the long hours, weekends the usual stuff you expect from a dedicated employee, but she’s gone that extra mile – she’s led conversations with suppliers and banks and saved the organisation from almost going under, developed the plan and strategies to pay back the loans, the debt and manage the business out of red and into the black; of course she didn’t do that single handily but she played an important part as did her team.

She trusted her employer and it was lost within moments.  All the hard work simply undone … they had promised her that if she got them out of the latest financial difficulties they would promote her, that she would get the recognition she deserved, and have a new challenge to motivate her further.  After all she spent 6 years leading her team, was constantly appraised and told she was doing a great job got them out of some interesting financial situations … But instead they hired someone new … Ouch … Yes indeed ouch.  The icing on top of the cake however, was they didn’t even tell her.  She had to find out 2 days before her new manager was about to start.

I hear you say, there must have been other reasons, she only heard what she wanted to hear and didn’t see the signs.  I thought the same, but she’s always been well known to be good at picking up on things, and on the night she was really upset that all of this was done behind her back, she was just too upset.

What would lead an organisation to do this?  She would have been a good person to involve in the recruitment process wouldn’t she? 

Some reasons could be her employer:

  • Thought it might lead to poor performance – they still had to get the final deal signed
  • Required her to be engaged and motivated
  • Simply didn’t want to have the difficult conversation
  • Thought she might resign before they had hired and that would have been dreadful at the time

Was it just too difficult a conversation?  Was it the organisational culture?  What role should HR have played?  Why did HR not insist on the manager having the adult conversation?  Did HR know what was happening, did they know about the promise made to her?  Could they have used reward (financial or non-financial) to retain her whilst this was happening but still be open and honest?

It’s fair to say is that my friend has worked hard, was told she was doing a fantastic job in fact; I would go so as far to say she was a true employee advocate … however it was all lost within minutes, because of the poor people management, which has resulted in lack of trust, engagement and she is completely de-motivated.

What would you do? Do you think the employer can win back her trust?