Employee engagement: don’t burn bridges

by Edward Henkler on July 15, 2014

Alarmingly low employee engagement is a frequent topic on my blog and I believe the solution requires some combination of my Voice of the Unheard, working in your passion rather than for a paycheck, and Matthew Kelly’s “The Dream Manager” philosophy.  Even in this age of frequent job changes, employees can become lifelong advocates, but employers need to give them a reason.  Keeping that in mind, I’d like to offer three vignettes showing that some employers and employees “get it”.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement – don’t burn your bridges

  1. The husband of one of my colleagues lost his job as a result of a restructuring.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t just him; the entire unit he led was eliminated.  A sad although not unusual story…..but then the magic occurs.  He worked tirelessly to ensure that every member of his team landed in a new position before he focused on his own transition, which is also now complete.  Think he might have created an advocate or two?
  2. Doing the right thing would seem to run in the family as my colleague elected to leave her job to pursue another opportunity which provided considerably more growth potential.  She has a somewhat unique set of skills and was part of a virtual team.  Knowing it would be a bit harder to replace her, she negotiated a 6 week transition with her new employer so that she could facilitate the transition at her old company.  Were they sad to see her leave?  Of course, but I bet she could go back if she ever wanted to.  She candidly said that the 6 weeks was hard but it was also right.
  3. My favorite story is of an exceptional and lifelong networker who is also a fantastic business developer.  He also elected to move on and was expecting some resistance from his employer.  When he announced his resignation, his boss said, “Wait, I want to get something.”  His response was that he didn’t want to negotiate and was just ready to move on.  His boss acknowledged and then handed him a “finder’s fee” arrangement that would give his previous employer first rights to new business which wouldn’t fit with his new employer’s business.  Somewhat disbelieving, he said, “So you want to keep paying me even though I’m leaving?”  His boss replied that he had been a wonderful asset to them and they had no desire to completely sever the relationship.  If he never brings them business, it costs his old company nothing.  If he does bring business, then both parties win.

Now that wasn’t so hard, was it????

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