Leaves.

I love Fall. I mean it. It is my favorite time of year by far. The mixture of cooler temperatures, apple cider, bonfires and the colorful trees make the season perfect. Add to that enjoyment is the fact that I’m a “yard guy.” I get incredible satisfaction from working with my hands doing yard work. From the first time of cutting the grass in the spring until the last piece of trimming after the first frost, I’m geeked. Genuinely, thoroughly geeked !!

I’m in the yard a ton right now because our house has several mature trees. For about a month straight it literally rains leaves all around my house. The grass becomes a vibrant blanket of color. It’s really hard to remove them, but that’s part of the gig. They need to be either raked up or mulched to clear things in anticipation of Spring.

falling-leavesAs I was mowing this year’s “crop,” something came to mind. Leaves are a lot like our employees. You see, the workplace is changing right before our eyes. Employees change roles more often than they did in the past. This may happen internally, but usually people move on to opportunities with another company. I’ve heard people say that employees aren’t loyal any more. I don’t think that’s the case at all. Just like leaves, people now work for us for a season. That season may be several years long, or it may be for a short period.

This presents a challenge for HR and traditional company cultures. We tend to settle in and think employees will stay with us forever. We are shocked when someone announces they have a new job. We should have a long-term focus for our employees, but we should balance that with the reality that they may leave. Today’s workforce is fluid and we need to be more agile and adept. This shouldn’t be seen as something that’s frustrating. It gives us a chance to evaluate and bring in great talent on an on-going basis.

On other aspect that leaves have in common with employees, is that we pile on when they change jobs. It is unfortunate that when people leave a company, everyone talks poorly about them. It’s like raking a big pile of leaves and then running to jump into it. What is the purpose of tearing someone down after they leave? Do we only have negative memories of what they did or how they performed?

We need to change this because I contend that if we can only cite negative memories of employees once they leave, then we’re thinking of them negatively now. HR should step in and not allow this negative approach to be pervasive. Here’s a new approach . . .

Get employees fully connected, engaged and contributing every day. Let them bring their best in all they do. Expect it from them and don’t shy away from this. Like leaves, every employee can appear green and the same to us when they really are colorful, creative and waiting to shed what’s common about them and show who they really are. If you do this with your people, you’ll celebrate and congratulate them when they move to their next opportunity.

Their past will get raked up or mulched to show they what they did built the value of the company while they were there. You have a chance this Fall to change your perspective about your people. Take a breath of the cool air and celebrate the leaves all around you !!

6 thoughts on “Leaves.”

  1. Compelling ideology. I’ve only have a few jobs and am still really proud to be an alumnus of every company for whom I’ve worked. There is another side… poor manager/employee relationships, inability to further develop one’s career, a discovery of “poor fit” five years later . . . it happens! The boomerang of Reciprocity swings heavy…. cultivate great relationships and take them with you. I know not a single person who burned bridges that didn’t eventually get burned. Great Post Steve!

  2. Great article! Reality is that many of us do NOT want to stay in the same place forever, and HR and all supervisors should be ready for that… AND supportive of when they move on to other opportunities that suit their career. Again, it’s HIS/HER career! They should be the one in control of that and not the company. Savvy HR departments will facilitate RETAINING that talent by steering high achievers into empty slots WITHIN the organization, if they’re smart! Great succession planning can lead to great career paths! Thanks for sharing this nice write up! I really like the leaf/seasonal analogy! 😉

  3. I’ve never understood why people have negative comments about a coworker when they leave. If you enjoyed working with someone you should be happy and supportive when they move on to another opportunity. So many people in my social media network are people I’ve worked with in my past and I enjoy staying in touch.

  4. One of the best things about the new way of working is the many ways we can work with organizations. Project, seasonal and part-time roles are just a few. I also like the trend toward alumni groups. Loyalty is being redefined.

  5. As usual, Steve, awesome post! I, too, have heard this “lack of loyalty” lament. It’s time to move on from that thinking. Be positive (to use your words) about someone and congratulate them when they move on. It may cause some more work for everyone in the short term, but as you point out, it is an opportunity.

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