If you resign, should you be worried about the “hole” you left behind?

Edited transcript.

Well it’s the 14th of january 2022, Elijah’s Expressions.

Today the topic: If you resign should you fret about the “hole” you left behind?

This was sparked off because CNA sent me something in the email. I subscribed to the newsletters and so on and something caught my eye, “Colleagues who resign create a hole in the teams they leave behind”, right, go look it up, all right, it’s on the CNA website, and it was sent to me by email.

A couple of questions come to my mind. I mean, when you read this, you know, you think “Poor thing, we have been focusing on the person who moves on, we have been focusing on the person who resigns, who leaves, what are their needs, why did they leave?” This article talks about having to now look at those who are left behind. What are their needs, what damage has been caused to them that only I, the organizational person can come and rectify, can come and make things better. Well, let’s look at a couple of questions. One. What is a team? What is a team, what is a group, are they different? Of course! How different? If I cobble together five people, six people, all right, and put them in two teams or three teams and say you guys are now basketball players. You are now a basketball team. Tomorrow you’re gonna play against the Division One team from the Combined Schools. What do you think is gonna happen, especially if they comprise people my age? They’re gonna lose! But the thing is, even if they are comprised of older people and they they are competing in basketball, for example, against people who are much younger, if the group of older people has been playing basketball for many years, they understand each other, they know each other, they can still beat a team of inexperienced, very much younger, very much fitter people because of their teamwork. We know this. And yet we ask these kinds of questions. Simply put, if I put together six people in a team, and it runs very well, the team quickly learns how to work together with one another – they just, it’s like, you know, I just turn my head, I look at you, you know what I mean and you know what to do, right? That kind of context. A team of five people, six people, whatever, will produce the value, will produce the equivalent amount of business, the equivalent amount of work, the equivalent amount of production, okay, there’s a limit to that, I know, the last one, production. But generally they will produce about the effects of 30 people working independently maybe more, I kid you not. Now if your team is simply to run a production line, your production line has a maximum capacity. You cannot run it to produce any more, no matter how many years the team has been together because it is constrained by the machinery, it is constrained by the manufacturing process, or by the printing process. Yes, in those kinds of contexts you can’t get very much more, there is a maximum to how far you can push things, how far you can expand things, so that is a team.

Now, sub question. Why are you in the team? Are you in the team because you asked to be there? Did the team ask for you? Did your boss put you there? Are you in a team because you got no choice, I’m here in the company to get to do my job, to earn my living, which is what most people will say? I just want to earn a decent basic wage, all right, leave me alone I’ll live the rest of my life as I please, okay? I come in, I put in eight hours, I do what you specify. Give me my pay. Bye bye. That sort of thing. So, why are you in the team?

Next sub question. Is the team better because you are there? Right, and everyone says, oh of course, right, I am God’s greatest gift to this team since the team has ever been formed. We tend to think in this manner, but take a step back and ask yourself “Is the team better because of me?”

Third sub question. Is your boss delighted that you are there? Is he relieved? Finally I found someone who can actually do some work! Finally I have found someone who if I plug into this team will make the team perform even better. Ask your boss. Talk to the rest of your teammates. How am i doing? I remember when I went to higher headquarters in my career, right, and I was new there, and I hated the job actually. It was an office job. I mean, there are aspects of it that I like but I’m a field guy. I don’t like office work but it has to be done, okay, someone has to do it. Six months into the job, you know, I was so insecure, I actually wrote handwritten notes to the people that I had to deal with and said “Hey guys, you know, how am I doing?” and most of them were kind enough to say “Hey, you’re doing great!” Not all of them, but most of them, and based on that I continued, I asked them how can I improve, what’s good for you and stuff like that, and you carry on from there. This is normal all right, so if you don’t know whether your teammates, you yourself or your boss are happy, ask them!

Fourth sub question. Are your customers happy with you? Now you may think that you are not facing buying customers, the public, but every organization, every sub organization, every division, every department, every team, you have customers. The customers may be other departments in the same organization, okay, do you always escalate things up to your boss, whether or not you can handle them. So ask your customers, the people who are affected, who are benefited by the products of your work, by the value that you bring by the services that you provide.

Fifth sub question. Something to ask yourself. Do you make people happy when you enter the room or are people happier when you leave? The quote for this, of course, comes from “Everyone makes me happy. Some people, when they enter the room, and some people, when they leave”. What kind of person are we? Okay so that’s considering what is a team.

Second part. Consider this. In the context of the question that was asked, or rather, the statement, on Channel News Asia in the email that was sent to me, when people move on, do you celebrate or do you mourn? When I say celebrate it is not in the context of “Oh, thank goodness she’s gone or thank goodness he’s gone, oh thank goodness that gang is gone” not in that context. It is when people leave they either resign because of whatever reason and by the way resignations are not all bad. Some people have no choice but to resign because of their life circumstances. They may have to move somewhere else. They may feel that they’ve had enough and they want to go try something else. All perfectly normal reasons for resigning so don’t fret too much about it because if you do are you really a team? So why do we celebrate? Because there is progress and if there is no progress then you have the opposite of progress but it’s also good because it forces you to sit up and take stock. Where are we? Why are we suffering because someone has moved on? Why are we suffering because we have such a high turnover? Should we be suffering? And what I’m referring to of course, is the notion of cross training for cross capabilities. The ability to increase in capacity as and when necessary. Are you able to do stuff that your co-workers are supposed to be doing and vice versa? In other words are you able to cover effectively for each other? What I’m saying is this. You know people dread going on vacation and they say you come back and you got two months of work piled up to the roof waiting for you. That, ladies and gentlemen, should never happen because if it does happen you do not have a team. I remember when 911 happened in 2001, my family and I were on vacation. We were overseas and when we were overseas we heard what happened on September 11. I picked up the phone and I called back and I said do you need me to return and the boss immediately above me actually said in his usual typical way, “For what?! Finish your vacation and come back!” That’s how it should be. True enough, I came back, I didn’t have work piled to the rafters for me, no. I just came back and carried on. Someone else had covered for me while I was away. Is that happening in your team? Because if it does happen you don’t have to worry about people, worrying about oh there’s a hole in our team. Please. If you can have a hole in your team just because someone has left you do not have a team.

Alan Weiss, the consultant, Alan Weiss, the Million Dollar Consultant, okay, I don’t have a relationship with him, all I’ve done is read his books watch his videos, podcasts, and I recommend that you do, by the way, but no financial links. Simple. I can’t afford him! If you can afford him, look him up. If you still can’t afford him, look me up, all right, but he has this to say, you continue REV. What is REV? Reciprocating Exponential Value. In other words, relationships should be, as time goes on, I deliver value to you, you deliver value to me. As time goes on the value increases, gets more and more. Even if you leave, if you join another organization, I’m still giving you value. Back and forth, and in fact I would suggest to you even if your teammate leaves for a competitor, all right, there’s someone called Liz Ryan on Linkedin. HR. She talks a lot about these kinds of things. Bless people when they go, especially if you’re a boss, okay, bless them. Wish them every success. In fact, coordinate, liaise for them to find a position, even in a rival company. Do that. Don’t be afraid. How many secrets do you think people can keep? Look at Watergate. The most powerful, influential men around. They could not keep a secret for two weeks. Watergate scandal. You think people can keep secrets? Think again. Let them go. In fact let them go joyfully, gladly, because three to five years, six years, I don’t know, down the line, when your organization expands, when your business gets better or, I mean, you don’t wish it, you know, but if your competitor goes out of business or decides to do something else, the chap that you sent off is gonna come back to you and you’re gonna welcome him with open arms because you know what he’s capable of doing. Think through. Think about it.

Finally, if we need to worry about people leaving holes when they leave, it is a question of leadership. How’s the leadership in your outfit? Are you grooming leaders in every one of your teams, from the most junior to the most senior? Are you grooming each other? Is there a mentorship program in your organization? And mentorship is not just for the anointed few, you should arrange mentorship as a matter of course, and when I say mentorship I am talking about cross division, cross department, not your direct line of reporting so regardless of whether it’s in person whether it’s on zoom whether you’re in different parts of the world, doesn’t matter. What mentorship is part of your leadership duties okay do it. Of course for some people it’s better they resign but I would suggest to you that if such is the case, that you happen to have people who for whatever reason, maybe they were good when they came in. Something happened and they got disillusioned, someone betrayed them, they got bitter, they got angry. They decided to no longer be productive and they resigned. Well, if that happens the question is, why didn’t the direct supervisors and managers detect it and if you did detect it why didn’t you ease them out of the outfit? Now I know this is something very difficult. Even for me, when I was young in the big organization something like this happened to me. One of my the staff came and said can you recommend an extension of contract. I said no. Why? Because you’re not interested in remaining in the large outfit. If I say I extend your contract I am not doing anyone a favor, least of all you. He did not get a re-contract. Did he like me for that? No. I had to do it for everyone’s good including his own. Are you willing to do stuff like that? I know it’s hard but if you detect that people actually should leave call the person up. Get the team members around. Have a frank talk and say hey you know this is a no-go. You signed on the contract, you said that you’d do this. You’re not doing it and this is why you’re not doing it and everyone agrees what’s going on. I know that in today’s context, rules, laws, are being enacted that make it difficult for you to fire people. You have to go about doing it anyway if you need to. All right, the world, I know, is becoming more and more of a lawless place. In the United States many crimes are no longer listed as crimes. That is why it’s going down the tubes. San Francisco, LA, you shoplift, if it’s less than 900 or something like that, you cannot be prosecuted, so why should the police do anything? Why should I open a shop, I’m inviting people to just come and take my stuff away, maybe even kill me, I don’t know. This is not happening in Singapore and I hope it never even appears over the horizon. We also need to look and to refute, to work against these kinds of legislation which are basically enslaving us, basically oppressing us. So think about what I said and better still, to wrap up, about whether you should worry about the hole that’s left behind in the team, look up this video. It’s from Niall Ferguson the historian. Niall Ferguson N-I-A-L-L Ferguson. He has a series of six shows that he has done, very well done, I thought. Civilization. Episode Six. The killer app, what he calls the Protestant work ethic. Look it up. Some very very interesting content in there. If you nurture something like it, doesn’t have to be exactly like but something like the Protestant work ethic. In other words, people who actually love their work not because they may actually love the work itself but because they work because it’s an expression of worship unto God. Seriously, look into implementing things like that. I know a lot of you who are watching this you may think oh yes you know it’s like Art of War – how do you manage large organizations, how do you motivate people and things like that and I’ve spoken about some of these things, in the context of Art of War as well but one of the things i want to quote to you is this. You know as a leader you make conditions so good, you make conditions for success so good that your people, all right, and the quote says “In their happiness at overcoming obstacles people forget the danger of death” and if people forget the danger of death may I suggest to you they will also not pay too much attention to any holes that might be left behind in teams. So don’t worry about the holes in your teams. Just look to make your team more holy, because if they are more holy they work harder, believe me.

All right, Elijah’s Expressions signing off till next time. Thank you for watching.

Links, the appropriate links, are in the description as always including Niall Ferguson’s Civilization Part Six. Please do look it up. The people that I mentioned, look them up as well. Spread good stuff, what’s wrong with it. If you want to come and join me as a paying subscriber, talk more about these kinds of things, maybe you have specific issues with your people, your personnel, you might be the HR, you might be the manager, you might be whoever it is, you might even be the staff it doesn’t really bother me, but what I want is people who come in and you want to make a difference, you want to improve. Link for membership sign up is there. I of course will be the guide, the coach, the facilitator, you name it.

Have a great day. Thank you!

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