Employees Leave Jobs At All Costs
Q: I head a department at a large company and directly report to a new president. He has a record of turning around companies, has excellent technical background, but zero interpersonal skills. If he doesn't need anything from you at that moment, he treats you as if you're a non-entity. He must be good at what he does, but he acts as if people are worth only as much as their accomplishments and seem to have no human value to him. Everyone in the company feels disposable, and no matter what jobs they fill, they notice the change in environment. Siri, ALEXA, and Cortana now have more manners than management here.
This has resulted in long-standing employees planning to leave; one employee told me she didn't have another job but would rather live on a far more limited income rather than to continue working here. I spoke to human resources about the problem with treating employees like non-humans, especially with today's focus towards a more enlightened, humane management style, only to discover they delivered my comments to the president. HR also reported to their bosses several lower level employees who filed what they thought would be anonymous complaints. HR must be following orders from the top, but all they've accomplished is to alienate everyone. It's a useless department other than to produce forms and function as the benefits police.
Other department heads have followed the president's management style, but I refuse to lower myself to this less than human approach since I disagree with it. I'm putting feelers out there but I can't discuss the president's lack of humanity as my reason for wanting to leave, so I'd like an unbiased view of my options before I am asked to resign, which I'm sure is coming.
A: Knowing what you want will dictate your options. Corporate environment is a high priority, if not number one. You need a friendly, appreciative, open company culture from the CEO down, as you've already experienced the stress caused by anything less than that. Checking into a company's true environment may not be as easy as it seems. Few employees write honest reviews of a company, but you can ascertain information by what employees won't say. Start online and face-to-face networking at industry conferences and local groups by offering information that can help others and by asking open-ended questions. An employee who loves a company will express excitement about it. Some one who seems reserved or holds back saying anything is telling you much by their silence. Read all the industry articles so you will see patterns in management as well as know which executives have or are planning to move on. A happy atmosphere can turn sour quickly with a change in management, especially when it's hurting financially. Since you've experienced such an event, doing due diligence is critical so you do not fall into a company where a cutback is eminent, though there are no guarantees.
Also consider small to medium-sized companies; when they need to cut back, they don't bring in the well-known hatchet men to carry it out, which obviously brings ongoing stress to a once peaceful environment. These businesses may welcome someone with big corporate experience because you offer a broader view than those who've only experienced small companies. Also, your details of wanting a smaller company for the more personable atmosphere not afforded to those in large companies will save you from thinking about the mass exodus caused by a poor corporate culture.
If you still want a large corporation, the executives may know or have heard of your company's president and his robot-like approach to business. Interviewers look for subjects in common, and they have been known to pull negative information out of candidates. Don't be duped into admitting anything. Bonding over negative information is not the kind of bonding that will move you ahead. Focus on all your achievements, large and small, in management, team growth and successes, and all you can bring to the company. When you focus on you, your conversation will be pure positive.
Email life and career coach LindseyNovak@yahoo.com with all your workplace questions and experiences. For more information, visit www.lindseyparkernovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.