Wednesday, November 15, 2006

People Leave People

I once read a very interesting article somewhere which said ‘People leave managers not companies’. I couldn’t agree more.

Companies constantly strive to keep people turnover low through pay raises, perks and training, when in the end turnover is usually a bad boss issue. A bad boss is the worst of workplace stressors. It directly impacts the productivity and enthusiasm of his team. The consequences could be severe when you loose the best talent at higher levels.

Advertising, or for that matter the media industry itself, is constantly starved of talent. One pet complaint for most employees is that they are poor pay masters. This means they attract little or no talent and they make no efforts to retain the existing ones. To top it up, they do not have any employer friendly HR policies to boast of.

It’s my passion (ok I am an enthu cutlet) that keeps me in this industry. Loosing a Management Trainee would hardly leave a dent. I was contemplating a change in job ever since my boss recruited a new manager.

A couple of months back my boss told me a Mr J was joining us. He told me he was moving on to bigger projects and that I would no longer be reporting to him on a day to day bases. To say I was disturbed would be an understatement, the floor had crumbled under my feet.

After the initial teething period for both of us (for me because I was reluctant to welcome a new person on board) I clued Mr J on work, brought him on to the same page as the rest of the team and welcomed him to our organization by introducing him to the rest of the company. My soon to be ex boss clearly identified our distinct purviews of work so that we would take onus of our work and not pass the buck to the other.

As a management trainee it was amply clear to me I was to coordinate the back end and handle all the operational work (it is a grind no fresher is exempted from) while Mr J was to handle client facing. We were a weird duo and it was soon evident to me I was right in being apprehensive.

Right from the first day, he simply refused to take onus or initiative on any projects leaving me accountable for both our duties. I could never go to him with some grief for he would always say it was my look out and refuse to help me.

I was reaching the brink with late nights, material deadlines, artworks and just about anything was my look out. I was dreading each day, all my enthusiasm dried up, deadlines slacked, client complaints was pouring in with a renewed vigor and each time I would be pulled up and told the same thing. The last day of my career was fast approaching, either I was going to put in my papers or I was going to get thrown out.

I was angry and let down because my boss didn’t inspire me to work, didn’t make work fun for anyone and lacked the passion and drive for creativity. I seriously registered on to every possible job portal. I would shamelessly look for jobs while at work!

Eventually Mr J quit and his replacement was brought in almost immediately, a woman! Well it just took her less than 5 minutes to win my respect (not because she was a woman, I am not a sexist). She came in at a time when a wrong artwork had been printed and client had sent a howler. I seemed to be a major cause for it. I was sure this was the final blow, I had received a hundred warnings already. She came in, sorted half our problems, and I didn’t loose my job! I made an effort to spruce up and bring back the old tautness in meeting timelines. We make a great team. She put enthusiasm back in my work and made me change my mind about quitting.

The author said, ‘Beyond a point, an employee's primary need has less to do with money, and more to do with how he's treated and how valued he feels. Much of this depends directly on the immediate manager.’

Most of the senior management is too busy traveling the world, signing new deals, and raking in revenues, little do they realize that deep within an organization that otherwise does all the right things, one man could be driving its best people away!


Manu said...

Point to remember [:)]. Especially when we ourselves become sr. management!

Aishwarya Rao said...

Very candidly put Dhivs.
At the end of the day, what I seek is a little respect for just being a part of team. Its about the feeling. One can have a great job, a great pay and still quit coz the boss was killing!
A very fluent post. Loved it!

xeonX said...

It cannot be better said dhivs.. the boss subordiante relationship is probably the foundation of any great organisation..u cud have all the processes in place..but if u have a bad boss things would just go downhill! i think im struggling with similar problesm at the moment.. not valued too much!

Meenu said...

well said ..Beatiful write up there you were really right in telling that the relationship what one employee has with his/her boss is what makes or mars his /her performance..
your blog is really superb!

vipin said...

absolutely, positively true...

Vasanth said...

Nice post.
But one thing is Mgrs are like that everywhere. No one is to be blamed. You lack experience, so you are the subordinate. Your company lacks the "fund" or the "precious time" to recruit, so they are the unfortunate employer. Mr/Ms have all in them that fits these two holes.
I had three S S S, First S steals password and caught by me redhanded, other S wants to smoke always and wrote a "lifetime treasure" Meeting Minutes and the final S wants me to do his work.
Final word, I enjoyed the post!

Smoochy said...

Its an ol' adage now - people leaving people, not companies.
All the bosses seem to have heard it, but also seem to belive it doesn't apply to them for some reason!