Monday, June 06, 2016

Would you help your earlier Organization after you have quit ?

It was a call from his ex-boss and he wondered what prompted the call 2 months after he had quit to take up a new assignment in another industry. He had spent over two years in the company when it was going through difficult times and strengthened the business and his function with a mix of calculated risk and conviction of success; he had succeeded in no small measure, acknowledged across the company globally. The company, his manager and now mentor, had given him back his professional pride that was bruised by his previous company.

Over the decade and more of work experience, his track record was excellent barring the unpleasant exit from multinational politics. He had left that behind and moved on with the new company that had offered him a challenge and opportunity to regrow his self-esteem. Driving a mean timeline, he had brought change that appeared difficult, and also created new avenues for growth. The company attempted to retain him but greener pastures beckoned him; he had left with bridges intact, the company also treating him well during the short notice period.

The surprise call from his ex-manager was to seek information on the last project he had worked upon which was well received as the strategy forward; the caller also requested two days of time in the coming weeks to travel abroad for a strategic presentation which would help in reinforcing the decision. He very much wanted to help his friend and now mentor; he also knew that he will have to take permission from his current company and manager to travel on behalf of his earlier company; so he promised to check and revert.

Tentatively he broached the subject with his CEO, outlining the request and his desire to acquiesce; in the two months that he had spent in the new entity, he had been quick to fit into the team and role while demonstrating his skills as a people’s person in his team. The agenda for the year was charted out and required his unwavering dedication and attention to execution. The CEO looked at his face which implored a positive decision and granted permission to travel; he realized the value his new hire could create even for his company.

The CXO had had a miserable time in his last few months in the role; unable to manage the growing political patronage across functions, he was unable to compromise his professional pride and bend to the now omnipresent sycophancy. Barring his team and a few who had felt the difference he had brought to the enterprise, no one shed tears when he left. The traditional farewell party was held with the usual speeches and gift, which had most people wanting to leave as soon as possible without looking rude.

He faded away while he did leave a legacy that became evident after few years when practitioners of servility unable to survive the pressure had been eased out of the company. For the company the resultant setback was difficult to manage; they had incinerated the bridge that binds an ex-employee to the company where high performers spend a large portion of life devoting time, energy, sweat and blood to not just do a job, but build a legacy. Two years later, this continues to haunt the company with suboptimal performance with resultant impact on shareholder value.

Even if the second company had to approach the CXO to assist with their woes, it is highly improbable that he would have accepted the offer. There was no emotional connect, no binding force that would have triggered a thought to help a company which had treated him with ignominy during the last few months and subsequent notice period. The clean break by the CXO closed any avenues that anyone could have explored. In a soft mood he was tempted to reach out; he inquired with other ex-colleagues only to be firmly advised against it.

To create and sustain goodwill, it requires equal effort on part of the departing employee as well as the enterprise; enterprise culture determines in large part the behavior of HR and Managers on how they treat past employees. Some alumni groups on the internet and social media portray a scary picture of such enterprises dissuading potential talent to explore opportunities. I believe that the onus to a large extent lies on enterprise to create brand ambassadors by spreading good will to attract and retain their most valued assets.

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