You can’t let fear dictate every single day of your life!

Leading a 140 + employee company, I think I should embrace the idea that people will leave. Actually, this could be the first and the last sentence of this post. It sounds like obviousness on one hand and like the revealed truth on the other. We are not all going to retire as a one, big happy family. I realise this at the level of my mind, but somehow, whenever it happens, I still find it hard to accept at the level of my heart.

Social media are full of the slogan: “people don`t quit their jobs but they quit their bosses.” You must have seen that. I deeply despise this statement! This doesn’t help me think rationally in situations when employees quit their jobs. And then I embark on this journey of guilt and remorse that either I must have overlooked something or not noticed something or I didn’t recognize something and I didn’t do something as a result. I blame myself for not being vigilant, for being a leader not good enough. But is it true that as a leader, there is always but always something  that you could do better or jump higher, or reach further?

My humble opinion is that there are those situations where there is nothing left to be done. BTW: this approach is one that differentiates female leaders from male leaders.

Then I am asking myself: “ What is it exactly that worries me if life is all about change? “ Here you go – some of my named fears: the logistics of substituting  until someone new is hired, the hassle of hiring, worry that the next person will not be as good, or will disrupt current team dynamics, worry that people leaving will reflect badly on me as a manager. Uff (a sigh of relief), I have just confessed them all. 

Fear is an emotion. It is good to have emotions in business (this approach is another thing that differentiates female leaders from male leaders). Eventually, we are all humans and emotions run in every cell of our bodies. Now it comes to turning these emotions into rational arguments and looking for benefits or solutions, at least.

Meanwhile, with this vacancy, there will be some additional tasks and extra burden for you and your team. Yeah, that stuff is a pain. But, honestly, it’s an essential part of doing business which happens now and again.  Everywhere. It doesn’t solely reflect  your company. Successful hiring is a huge talent where listening skills, intuition and a sixth sense lead the way. And it is a very exhausting process at the same time. However, you have already hired many talents in your professional life, trained them and developed to become great team members. Why should this time be different?

If your worry is that a new person will change your team dynamics, that might be the case. But it’s not inherently a bad thing. Sometimes, a long period where team dynamics don’t change can lead to stagnation and tunnel vision. Team, company and you can all benefit from new and fresh blood on board. And … if the dynamics change in a way that isn’t ideal, have confidence in yourself to manage it. Manage it well.

Last but not least, your worry is that people leaving would reflect badly on you as a manager. At some level, you feel like if you were a good manager, your staff would have all stayed. And social media indicate the same, I tell you! Let`s reframe this in your head to something like: “I will do my best to hire and retain good employees, this means ensuring they’re paid fairly and treated  well.” It also includes doing my best to develop their skills and help them grow professionally, which means that I embrace the idea that at some point, they will move on in order to keep progressing. And sometimes people will move on for reasons that have nothing to do with me – their interests change, or their family life needs a change, they get older and look for some comfort zone or they have found an opportunity that appears to be better.  And then … your job is not to keep everyone in place forever; it is  to manage well, retain your highest achievers as long as you realistically can, and respond with good grace when people decide that something else makes more sense for them. Uh la la … sounds like a world class approach, I do know.

Life is actually less idealistic and much more pragmatic. But, you can`t  definitely be afraid of each and every single day because people will leave! That is part of the deal. You don’t get to keep them forever, and that is OK. They have grown professionally while working for you, so at some point,  they will move on to the next thing that will help them grow even more. That is even how it is supposed to work.

Will we ever be ready to accept it wholeheartedly? Frankly,not so sure. Especially in a situation where losing an associate with extensive experience and competences goes with losing an attractive and positive individual.

This seems to be another area for improvement on my part. So, let’s keep calm and keep going!

“The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”

Padmasree Warrior
(CEO & Founder, Fable)