Stop Turning Your Employees Into Enemies

Every business has a unique opportunity when they hire a new employee. They have the opportunity to create a fan for life.

When my company SmallBox got started we had a partnership with another local agency to provide backend (CMS) development for their projects. At one point this work generated about 50% of our income. It also provided us with a close up view of a large, growing agency.

We learned a lot. Unfortunately it was mostly around what not to do. Although the partnership ended in 2009, it continues to inform my approach to leadership and team building.

During the 2+ years we worked with this company we saw some of the very best talent in Indy come and go. Often in a matter of months. Although I won’t go into all the reasons why that happened, it really opened my eyes to the value of talent.

So many employees left this company to start their own businesses. Businesses that wanted nothing to do with their former employer. There are at least 10 successful businesses here in Indy founded by former employees.

As a result of this turnover, and many other bad practices, this agency quickly flared up and dwindled. This really broke my heart to watch since I cared about the company. I wanted them to thrive and do great things. I saw the potential.

Every business has a unique opportunity when they hire a new employee. They have the opportunity to create a fan for life. Someone that will continue to drive opportunities its way long after they stop being employees.

But too many companies treat an employee dismissal as a death. The employee becomes “persona non grata”, whispered about in the halls.

The former employee, traumatized by the experience, spreads their anger everywhere they go.

You can tell a lot about the future of a business by talking to former employees. If they don’t speak warmly about their experience then chances are the company is rotting from the inside out.

A former employee is the most trustworthy source on a company. They have little reason to whitewash the experience.

This is why it is so important for companies to create compelling employee experiences. This is especially important with so many ways for former employees to broadcast their feelings and thoughts.

I love what the consulting company McKinsey has done with their “alumni”- creating an online network and staying connected as they go out into the world. Essentially, McKinsey’s marketing strategy is encouraging their best talent to “graduate” and go out into the world, bringing McKinsey with them. Brilliant.

Let’s stop treating our employees like interchangeable resources, discarding them when their “use” is up. Let’s create such a compelling employee experience that when employees leave they drive the very best talent and customers our way.

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