Resignation – the word itself conjures images of giving up and walking away – which is why I think we’ve all got this wrong.
How about we look at this is an opportunity – we can make it one – and sure, in some cases, you’re still going to want to – and in fact – should quit.
A lot of this comes down to culture, communication & workspace.
People leave bad leaders (and to that I’ll add work cultures) – it’s an amorphism everyone states – but what are we actually doing about it!?
Ratchet goals, inspection & monitoring, poor communication, whipsaw directives, unbalanced work/life, recrimination, stack ranking, exhaustion as accomplishment, employee surveys with no tangible outcomes – it’s a long, damning, list that we could each add to. But let’s use those as lessons!
People are leaving and don’t want to spend 1/3 of their lives in those cultures, anymore. Maybe it’s the pandemic, maybe it’s the younger, more aware generations that have grown up in a mutable, flexible, diverse world where terms such as equity, quantum, AI and metaverse have really expanded their awareness as to the art of the possible. And it’s infectious! Of course they’re not going to stand for the antiquated antics of antediluvian anicients. I’m damn near one of them and I’ve never stood for that kind of ossified thinking.
Think about how IT, perhaps the biggest source of this movement, is managed overall, and how 95% of the time its culture is incongruous with the overall corporate culture – because no one took the time to integrate those cultures and maybe refresh how the business operates. Consider the example of how hard it is to implement Agile in older shops, but how it works exceedingly well when it is implemented! Consider how many times you’ve seen an ERP or CRM engagement become 95% customization! What is it about your specific processes that are so effective – or is it just because that’s how they’ve always been done. Be honest. Tie them to financial performance before we have this conversation.
I get change is hard. That’s precisely why change is necessary – you know what happens when you stay in your comfort zone?
I got into IT leadership exactly because I wanted to wield IT like it was a swiss army knife. I wanted to tie business goals to IT results. I wanted to inject financial awareness as to the cost impact or the revenue benefit of IT decisions! Business operates on cash flow – how can I not speak their language and expect them to speak mine?
And here’s the truth – even when one of teams I was running was turning in top results and driving highly profitable growth for a division from $60M to $100M – I STILL locked horns with a CIO who would die on the Stack Rank hill and push one more mandatory RIFF head count to my team because there was that ONE person who disagreed with their technical design decision and was RIGHT to do so. I offered to RIFF myself if he was so insistent!
These counters and deal sweeteners are temporary and will only last so long when faced with these broken cultures.
Here’s another story. About a month ago I talked with a business exec who was considering just transitioning everything IT overseas – IT to IBM, development to Eastern Europe & call center to the Philippines.
We made 3 calls and 60 minutes later and armed with real world war stories, this is what he said: “You know, I REALLY hate it when you’re right!”. But he still wasn’t getting the message – and you know, that’s on me.
You can’t make those moves if you have broken processes, leadership and cultures. Fix those first, then, yes, absolutely scale up when you need to. Guess what? You might be surprised at how infrequently you have to do that when your system is operating much smoother!
There is a hidden cost to the inefficiencies of bad leadership, broken cultures and poor communication. We track it, we fix it, and we show the benefits on the other side.
Don’t just nod along – do something about it!
Unless & until companies are willing to address their cultural, communication and leadership debt, this problem is going to linger and employees are going to vote with their feet.
That’s why I’ve been calling it the Great Reset and not The Great Resignation
This is a golden opportunity for leaders. It’s in our hands what we do with this.