Here let me read it to you. Best to listen straight off Spotify though, the browser version is buggy.
A mistake that reflects badly on you
Running a business means suppressing your strongest instincts. Like when staff decide to leave.
It depends on the circumstances, but sometimes dark urges within you want to freeze them out for being a traitorous dog. And because they’re of no further use to you. Chase them out of the building ASAP with their coffee mug and their little desk plant in a cardboard box. Tell everyone they were no use anyway and you’ll all be better off without them.
Sometimes you see it get to threats. You’ll never work in this town again. You’ll hear from our lawyers, and so on.
This is a mistake and reflects badly on you.
It’s understandable, though. Your competitive instincts got you where you are. It’s a jolt trying to switch them off when someone else lures your people away. Fuck those guys!
Easy tiger. Competition is a long game. A satisfying emotional flare-up now will cost you in the future.
On a recent interstate trip I caught up with one of our staff who left us three years ago. Not to work for a competitor, but to do similar work in another sector. He re-joined us last month.
It was really good to see him. His time away had been positive, though stressful through the COVID years. The fact that he chose to return is a wonderful thing for our business. Because he left on good terms, and chose us again. He didn’t have to. There are a lot of jobs on offer right now.
Now he brings skills and experiences from different fields that will help our whole business. He’s a better person for giving it a shot. And for developing a clearer sense of what he does and doesn’t want out of life.
You can’t say people’s ideas and ambitions are wrong
If people want a change, you can’t tell them it’s a terrible idea. They have to find out for themselves. If they don’t try it, it’ll remain a shimmering vision of paradise in their minds, more attractive with each year they don’t do it.
All you can do is wish them all the best, and tell them that you valued the time they worked for you. If they find true happiness elsewhere, it was meant to be. Be pleased for them. If they don’t – and that’s statistically likely – then it pays to burn no bridges.
Because if someone returns, that’s a really positive story for your other staff. It reassures them they’ve chosen a good place. Someone else has tested that alluring alternative for them, and come back to tell the story firsthand.
It’s like a business vaccination: you need a little dose of the thing you don’t want, to be stronger long-term.
Learn from their departure
There’s a standard corporate scapegoat procedure: all current problems in the business were the fault of the last person who left.
“I didn’t want to say too much at the time, but they really were hopeless. We’re so much better without them.”
It makes you feel like there’s no need for any further soul-searching or change. Their mere departure will remove the bad spirits in the business, like an exorcism.
That’s true every so often. But it pays to talk to the departing person in some depth. Let them know you’re OK with any criticism they have.
Their departure is probably nobody’s fault. But you might learn something you can fix to stop it happening again.
I drafted this story on the plane home, and the next day saw that tech investor / Fishburners CEO Alan Jones had written a good piece on the same topic. He points out that companies put so much effort into the onboarding side of things, but at the other end … not much thought at all.
Also I didn’t know offboarding was a word. Yet that’s the part people remember for decades afterwards.
What you do here can play out over decades. Being decent with people is a long-term investment and can be frustrating. But worth it.
At last, the blog delivers proven value
Something else nice from my travels. Our Adelaide technical director Matt just told me how useful my audio blog is. His 18-month-old son Beau is always a reluctant sleeper. Matt was listening to the blog in the car, and realised Beau had nodded off.
So they tried it at bedtime and sure enough: each night, after a brief dose of audio Undisruptable, the lad’s off to dreamland.
Matt thinks it’s the vocal tone but to be honest I think he’s bored senseless with business content because what 18-month-old wants that?
I asked him if Beau was now saying ‘fuck’ a lot. Not so far. But from now on I’m going to say “frog” instead, because I love the whole idea of the blog as a kid sedative and frogs are wholesome.
Anyway I’m pleased to help Matt’s whole family get more rest.
I’m out of here
Now, I’m out of here for three weeks. It’s such a weird feeling not cancelling or postponing a holiday, but it seems like it’s actually going to happen. I have never needed a holiday more in my life, my brain has entirely turned to mashed potato. Time to frog off, back in late August.
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Why not buy this nice book?
Want a step-by-step guide to how to set up a business that you don’t even have to work in day-to-day? Here it is: Undisruptable: Timeless Business Truths For Thriving In A World Of Nonstop Change out on Penguin Random House.
Every week since it came out, it’s the #1 Review-Rated biz book on all of Booktopia. On paper, electronic or audio book with me reading it. Get it here:
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For those of you in geo-blocked countries, here’s your non-Spotify audio: