A pact to quit

We pull real conversations with real women figuring out How to CEO everyday.

This week…

Question: My Cafe Manager, Lead Barista and Assistant Manager all had a pact and quit the same day. I told them they would not be required to work their notice but I would pay them through it. Did I do the right thing by not letting them work their notice?

Coach response: I think you did. This is such a great case study of what happens with one bad seed in a team, especially when they are in a position of authority. People do crappy things. You don’t need that, so be done with it. I’m glad this has ended and you have a plan.

I was actually listening to Marcus Buckingham recently. He used to work for Gallup and is a human psychometrics guy. He just wrote a new book called Love and Work. He said there is no such thing as Corporate culture, there is only team culture. Within any business, we can have only a couple team cultures or 5,000, depending on how many managers there are. You discovered that because you had a beautiful culture when you were influencing all of it and then you hired this management person and she created her own culture.

This happens when other managers’ voices are louder than your voice. The only thing you could do differently is to identify it sooner and let her go. When we start to see people on a team behaving differently, we know that we have an entire subsystem and that the leader’s voice is displacing the overall voice of the culture and business. That’s why we don’t want to abdicate leadership responsibility to people too soon until we have a sense of understanding who they are and even then, people can still mess it all up. It’s oversight and it’s your management of them that can help mitigate it, but we also have to tell the truth that these people show up, it’s what happens, and it’s good that it blew up because they all go at once, you don’t get a straggler.

It’s also important to check in with your intuition, how would you know something was amiss? Did you know? If you saw the signs and chose not to address them, let’s just tell the truth. You chose to abdicate it. If you had chosen to do something different when the signs were there, you could have just inserted yourself to the extent that they started to feel uncomfortable. That’s always the solution, to be very clear that it’s your business, not hers.

Sometimes things have to be painful and awful before we are willing to address them. My guess is that you will never allow this to happen again. Also, the bigger your business gets, the more you are going to want to have processes around performance management. Your role is then to check in with people periodically to see how things are going.

If you are still worried about their opinions, here’s my perspective: If someone wants to quit, why would I want them here? It’s all good. These are not people you need in your life. Who cares if they are mad? That’s what happens when you quit, you aren’t here anymore.

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