When Employees Quit in Large Numbers: A Conversation with Katrina

By | March 28, 2015

 

Several months ago, I had a discussion with a colleague who informed me that her entire department quit on a Friday when she was at a conference. She received a call from the HR department informing her that all five of her employees submitted their resignations.

Here is the discussion I had with Katrina:

Me: Hey, Katrina. It’s good to hear from you. What’s keeping you busy?

Katrina: Well! You’re not going to believe what happened.

Me: Try me!

Katrina: I was attending a conference last week in Puerto Rico, and all my employees quit – on the same day!

Me: Wow! That’s weird! Do you know why they left?

Katrina: You know that I took over this department several months ago, and we just never connected. They wanted things done the old way, and I wanted to make a change. For example, they were used to setting their hours. They call it flex-schedule, or something like that. I made it clear they had to work the regular 9-to-5 schedule. I really need them at the office when I’m at the office, and not some crazy 11-to-7 thing.

Me: Was there anything else?

Katrina: There were other issues. You know that I like to work on Saturdays. I asked for at least one of them to come in on Saturday mornings. They could rotate.

Me: How did that go?

Katrina: It was like starting World War III! They told me that their Saturdays were for family and stuff. C’mon! I’m only asking them for one Saturday morning, and they can rotate between themselves.

Me: So the flex-schedule and working on Saturday mornings were the only issues?

Katrina: There was also the issue of daily status meetings. I asked each of them to schedule 10 minutes with me at the end of the day, assuming I was in the office, and brief me on how they were coming along with their work assignments. Some gave me the story of how busy they were, and that they didn’t have 10 minutes to meet with me. I’ve seen what they do most of the day! I know they are surfing the web, and texting friends during company time. Asking for a little time for a status meeting is not too much. I need this information to determine how well they are performing.

Me: What was your role during these status meetings?

Katrina: I would listen to them talk for about a minute or two, and then I would provide feedback. I could tell that many of them were making up stuff. I’m sure they were not doing half the stuff they told me.

Me: What’s next?

Katrina: I guess I need to hire people. This time I’m going to bring onboard only those who think like me! They need to be hard workers, and committed to the cause. I can tell you the interviews will be tough!

An important takeaway here is that Katrina is a dedicated worker. She is committed to exceeding expectations. However, when coming into a new organization, it’s important to understand the culture. Before initiating change, you must have a clear idea of how to make it happen. If you alienate the staff at the outset, you can expect a tough road ahead.

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