Leap day is almost upon us. I got my education about the folklore of Leap Year from last week’s episode of 30Rock. The running theme was to do something different and out of character on leap day. So, I am asking you today to consider—what will you do different on Wed?
Here’s what I wish companies big or small would do differently on Wed–remember that their employees are whole human beings. I offer this wish today because I just witnessed again the harsh reality of change that can hit like a tidal wave out of no where. The following is what I characterize as my testimony as I am a witness to these events and I must say something as both a management consultant, business owner and fellow human being.
Steve worked at a local bank and Norah worked at a local non profit. I use the term local intentionally as customers here in Western Mass go out of their way to support local businesses. Steve spent the better part of a year developing relationships with customers and then one day at the end of his shift he was told to gather his belongings as he was being transferred. No time for good byes, but time to command silence as he left. His new job location is with different staff and different customers.
Norah, had a leadership role in this non profit and then one day she was told she could resign or stay but would be the only one left from the leadership team. Her conscience and heart made it clear, she could not stay and be the only survivor to this traumatic event. That is the new term you know for employees that got to keep their jobs in this recession—Survivors. Consultants all over the country travel from company to company to help the “survivors” deal the experience of watching their colleagues lose their jobs.
Both Steve and Norah woke up on the same day and both went to bed with a new reality. The tidal of change hit them. Steve is just starting out and is one of those millennials everyone is talking about. I haven’t read much that is positive about this generation so please let me share a bit more about Steve. He understands customer service is about building relationships. So that is what he did, he expressed appreciation for each customer that came in to do their banking with him and got to know them and their families. Steve shared his heart with the customers and in turn they shared theirs and their business.
Norah, spent each day 8-10hours a day getting paid less than her corporate counterparts because she believed in the mission of the organization. Yet, it wasn’t enough and in a moment things changed.
Does either company realize the messages they have sent to their customers and to their current employees? When I use the term, “company” it can change the identity and the accountability of the Who factor in these situations. In these situations, there is no blame. Each employee who participated, collaborated and supported these outcomes had their rationale and own method to survive. I offer them compassion and understanding. These changes were probably exactly what was needed or even warranted. The leaders who made these decisions made them with the intent to do what was best for the company.
My wish for companies and the people who run them is that on Wednesday they implement change differently. They implement it with the care and the true strength that only gentleness inspires. There current and future employees and customers are humans and every time they forget that, it means they forget about their own humanity.