A challenging moment of truth for leaders
When you part ways with someone, the chance of a conflict following is omnipresent.
Sometimes hard decisions have to be made. However, it is still to be decided how to communicate the consequences of these decisions. In many cases, an escalation follows, which implies costs and reputation damage, in most cases for the organisation which formerly employed people.
How can your organisation be sure to act more sustainably and without the risk of a public escalation?
Recent headlines were once again dominated by the wrongdoing delivered by a senior leader. Vishal Garg, CEO of Better.com, a mortgage loan firm, fired 900 people from his company, and this just happened after he received more money from investors. As if it is not bad enough from a timing point of view, the CEO decided to part ways from 900 employees in a rather unusual way: via zoom call. The CEO informed the people that anyone on the zoom call will have their contract terminated, effective immediately. It did not take long until a public outcry happened, and the video from the session was leaked to the general public. It quickly went viral on social media and in the press. The damage to the organisation and its reputation happened immediately.
While it is hard enough already to figure out how any leader could conclude that this way of redundancy is a good or even remotely acceptable way of communication, we still see leadership misbehaviour happening frequently. Toxic, masculine, testosterone-driven behaviour is typical and reminds us of Wall Street movies from the 1990s.
You need to prepare your leaders for these critical moments way ahead of time. Once the need is there, starting the training is too late.
Two main aspects need to be considered. On the one hand, the hard skills, the facts, often focused on the legal aspects of the exit interview. What am I allowed to say? Which statements am I not allowed to make? Which mistakes are common but must be avoided? How can I ensure that the interview does not end with an immediate escalation?
On the other hand, soft skills, the interpersonal aspects of an exit interview. Which style of communication is preferred? How to handle conflicts? In which way are we able to practice sustainable leadership even in these moments of crisis?
Qualification prevents damage to your organisation, prevents an unnecessary escalation, and improves results for anyone involved in the process.
The end of acceptance
Even up to this point of reading, some of you will disagree. Some will still think that being the toughest person in the room is the best option for delivering leadership. These people will call any misbehaviour “management tough talk” and label this behaviour acceptable. This time comes to an end.
The CEO, Vishal Garg, who was mentioned before, just days after the incident, had to take “immediate leave”, as it was called. An investigation of the corporate culture is ongoing. We all know what the consequences of these leaves are. The times that leaders can sit through any crises with no consequences are over. Investors do not accept that their return on investment goes down due to leadership wrongdoing.
It is time to prepare your leaders to deliver excellent leadership even in the most challenging moments. Stay away from pseudo-quick solutions and offer your leaders substance, knowledge, and skills.
More about exit interviews in this
week’s podcast: click here to listen and learn.
Sustainable leadership in times of crisis is important to you?
Let’s talk: NB@NB-Networks.com.