A nationwide firm, which I will not name, conducted an employee survey recently. As with most endeavors of this nature, the results were a mix of positive and not-so-positive responses. After these results had been discussed at the highest level, the CEO called an all-hands virtual meeting. He reported results to everyone and expressed his displeasure about those whom had expressed their unhappiness. Then he did an extraordinary thing. He said, “If there are people in this organization who do not like working here, feel free to leave.” Twenty people took him up on that suggestion and resigned that day. I know this for a fact because the spouse of one of my colleagues was on the call.
Arguably, this one comment probably will cost the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars in employee replacement costs and business disruption. He has also fostered the creation of at least 20 evangelists who are now telling their friends, “Don’t work for ___________.” If stories of this incident hit employment sites like, glassdoor.com, the company will struggle to recruit top talent. Finally, the CEO has left an impression on those remaining with the organization that they are not appreciated and are “free to leave” if they become unhappy.
After reading all this, your first thought might have been, “Who on earth does something like that in this day and age?” My first thought was, “Here is yet another example of the struggle between emotion and logic where emotion wins.” It is easy to assume that once people reach a certain level of leadership and responsibility, they will have matured past this type of behavior. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
We all, at times, lose momentary control of our emotions. Thankfully, the stakes are not this high, most of the time. But just the same, allowing emotion to overtake our logic can be a recipe for disaster no matter where you are in the organization. You never know who is observing how you act and what you say.
I, for instance, have written a number of angry letters over the years to individuals or organizations who I believe have treated me unjustly. But I’ve had the common sense to sleep on them before dropping them in the mailbox. The next morning all them have ended up in the trash, with a couple of exceptions.
We are increasingly living in a world where emotions are raw. We take everything personally. Others’ opinions are wrong unless they agree with ours. Hopefully, we will all step back from the edge over time. But in the meantime, take a breath!