People Matter Blog

People Matter Blog

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

How to lose employees and alienate them

Change is a wonderful thing unless you don’t expect it and comes as a complete surprise  ... How many times have you been in that situation?  As a consultant I love change, I thrive on change ... but I'm not sure I would given the context below...

I was having dinner with a friend just a few weeks ago catching up in the new year with a couple of glasses of champagne and a good old gossip instead it turned into a night with her moaning about her manager, her organisation and how she hated where she worked ... Oops how can I make an excuse and get out of here?  I stayed and listened and I started thinking how easy it is for an organisation to ruin in moments what they had spent years developing in their employees.

She’s worked for her employer about 6 years – she’s been through a lot with them, she's worked the long hours, weekends the usual stuff you expect from a dedicated employee, but she’s gone that extra mile – she’s led conversations with suppliers and banks and saved the organisation from almost going under, developed the plan and strategies to pay back the loans, the debt and manage the business out of red and into the black; of course she didn’t do that single handily but she played an important part as did her team.

She trusted her employer and it was lost within moments.  All the hard work simply undone ... they had promised her that if she got them out of the latest financial difficulties they would promote her, that she would get the recognition she deserved, and have a new challenge to motivate her further.  After all she spent 6 years leading her team, was constantly appraised and told she was doing a great job got them out of some interesting financial situations ... But instead they hired someone new ... Ouch ... Yes indeed ouch.  The icing on top of the cake however, was they didn’t even tell her.  She had to find out 2 days before her new manager was about to start.

I hear you say, there must have been other reasons, she only heard what she wanted to hear and didn’t see the signs.  I thought the same, but she’s always been well known to be good at picking up on things, and on the night she was really upset that all of this was done behind her back, she was just too upset.

What would lead an organisation to do this?  She would have been a good person to involve in the recruitment process wouldn’t she? 

Some reasons could be her employer:

  • Thought it might lead to poor performance – they still had to get the final deal signed
  • Required her to be engaged and motivated
  • Simply didn’t want to have the difficult conversation
  • Thought she might resign before they had hired and that would have been dreadful at the time
Was it just too difficult a conversation?  Was it the organisational culture?  What role should HR have played?  Why did HR not insist on the manager having the adult conversation?  Did HR know what was happening, did they know about the promise made to her?  Could they have used reward (financial or non-financial) to retain her whilst this was happening but still be open and honest?

It’s fair to say is that my friend has worked hard, was told she was doing a fantastic job in fact; I would go so as far to say she was a true employee advocate ... however it was all lost within minutes, because of the poor people management, which has resulted in lack of trust, engagement and she is completely de-motivated.

What would you do? Do you think the employer can win back her trust? 

About the author

Mira Magecha
Mira Magecha
Mira is an Associate Management Consultant with a strong track record of managing work packages and delivery. Her experience is in global transformation programmes with a specific expertise in HR shared services and outsourcing, organisational business change and process improvement. She is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (MCIPD) and a PRINCE2 practitioner. She has both international (South America, Asia, Middle East and Central Europe) and cross industry experience within life sciences, central government, health, media sectors and FMCG. Management Consultant, (Associate)
6 Comments Leave a comment
No, I don't think so. Her employer should have approached her and given reasons why she wouldn't be promoted and told her a new manager was being brought in. This economic climate does not breed loyalty and often it's not believed to be a good thing as many employers expect movement especially with young staff.
What would you do? Leave, they haven't looked after her, why stick around.. Do you think the employer can win back her trust? Yes, pay her more, more responsiblity, promotion..
Mira, the case you describe unfortunately happens too often. And especially in a people and knowledge driven buisness it's even critical. The are telling a story about lost trust. Trust is a mutual thing. So what happened in this case? What is the root cause for having lost the trust in the employer? From in outside- in perspective some basics of people development and leadership were not followed: effective communication, expectation setting, effective performance appraisal and continous feedback. It may be that your friend didn't express her ambitons and career objectives clearly to her supervisors. On the other hand, was she informed about the criteria and conditions to make the next step in her career? You mention, that your friend worked hard and always exceeded expections in terms of commitment and willingness to work hard. To be honest, this is not necessarily the only quality to progress in a management career. Your friend should reflect on her own with support of a trusted peer and then should share her career objectives with her supervisor in order to agree on a path to the next level.
nicgee's picture
I find this blog all too familiar and very disappointing. i think your friend owes to herself to discuss her disappointment with her employer so that she understands the full circumstances and that the organisation has an opportunity to repair the damage done to the levels of trust. For the organisation, I hope the HR department have advised and supported the organisation based on the skill requirements of the organisation, how this aligns with your friend and their business strategy.
plangton's picture
This is strongly linked to a break in the psychological contract. Whilst your friend may have not physically signed a contract to say that she would be promoted it sounds as if she was led to believe that this was the case. Breaking this 'promise' can lead to a clear breakdown in trust, motivation, commitment and I'm sure she will go through all of the emotional steps of change to get through to acceptance of the situation. Can the company win back trust, well that is dependent on whether your friend perceives that the psychological contract has been truly broken from the employer or that there are ways in which this can be regained, and quickly.
I feel for your friend. There's nothing worse than investing energy at work beyond the call of duty, to be dangled a carrot when the work pressures require it and then for an employer to conveniently forget promises made. Not only is there the disappointment to content with but also a sense of feeling like the boss doesn't actually care about their people. I'd start looking for new opportunities as soon as possible.

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