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Telling the boss you're not happy

June 9th, 2006 · No Comments

If you are a manager or supervise staff at work, how do you handle resignations and finding out that your staff are out looking for another job?

This is a follow up to my post yesterday about job hunting while still employed, which resulted in a couple of emails and Emmer’s comment "I honestly believe if my employer knew I was looking for another job,
they’d either fire me or treat me so differently that I’d become
miserable if I wasn’t already."

recall one time when I found out my personal assistant was looking for another job.  I was on maternity leave at the time, and she was soldiering on alone (and hence given a heck of a lot of responsibility).  The State Manager (who I had her reporting to in my absence from a ‘personnel’ viewpoint only – you know, leave, attendance records, etc) had discovered on our computer system that she was looking for a job and phoned me at home to let me know.

I didnt do anything with the knowledge, since I was a tad preoccupied with my brand new son.

It took her over four weeks until she phoned to tell me she was resigning.  And so I was used to the idea by that time.  But it was so darned inconvenient, let me tell you – trying to recruit a replacement and ensure she knew what she had to do to hold the fort until I returned to work, all while juggling a two month old baby.  (I must’ve done OK with the recruiting because her replacement was still with me eight years later!)

I felt betrayed, let down and very disappointed by her move.  But this was a special case since I hadn’t been replaced while on maternity leave & the department was still officially mine.  These days, I am not sure how I’d react.  (I know how I’d feel – but acting is different to feeling).

If I was out job hunting while still employed these days, I think I wouldn’t tell my manager that I was looking.  I may, however (and have done in the past) have a chat about what isnt working and how I am feeling.  Because in any situation is the possibility of improvement.

As a manager or a boss – how will you react if an employee tells you they are going to start looking for a new job?

Is Emmer right – would you fire them (rationalise – well, they were going to leave anyway, I dont want them around any longer to disrupt the team); would you make their life a total misery (I’ll show him!!); or would you try and place yourself in their shoes and thank them for the opportunity to improve the way their job/team/unit works?

Would you stop and listen long enough to find out what the real issues are, and then check to see whether anyone else on the team felt the same way?  Would you propose changes to your staff to help them be happier in their job, and maybe save them from leaving?   If that failed, would you see if you can accomodate them elsewhere in the organisation?

Would you put aside your ego long enough to see the human side of the equation?

In these days of chronic shortages of applicants for professional jobs and the high cost of recruiting and training new staff,  can you afford not to at least try to keep them within the organisation?

Tags: Worthwhile Work

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