Respecting Employees On the Way Up and on the Way Out

A friend commented yesterday that I seem to be on an employee engagement kick. Given that I've seen how damaging disengagement can be, both to the individual and to the company, reading about it done right gives me hope. Do the KIND Thing by Daniel Lubetzky is a good example of this.

Daniel is always looking to be a not-just-for-profit company, and to find a way to make a positive difference in the world. The way he treats his partners and staff, and the culture he's imbued the KIND company with, are all testaments to how this is not only the right thing to do but also good for all involved (and the bottom line). This is very aligned with Conscious Capitalism and what The Container Store and others that are part of this movement believe.

A striking example of this is how they treat staff firing and promotion. 

If someone is not a good fit, there is advance notice and effort to help the person perform or to find a better fit elsewhere in the company. If this does not work out, they are given ample time to transition out, when they can actively look for another job as long as they help with the transition. The one time a senior manager did not follow this protocol, Daniel apologized to the employee who was disrespectfully escorted out, had a company-wide meeting to address the morale issues and reiterated how this was wrong, and tried to get the senior manager to understand his misstep.

For promotions, there is opportunity with transitions built in. Daniel has an "assistant ladder" where each assistant, when she outgrows the position, hires and trains her replacement. Many of his assistants have moved on to senior positions either within or outside of the company, but always ensured that there was a seamless transition.

At the core of all of this is an open dialogue about employee ambitions, development, and options. If someone decides to look elsewhere, KIND asks that the employee first have a conversation with either Daniel or their direct manager. If after this conversation the person still decides their best way forward is to move on, they can look openly as long as they keep doing their job and help recruit and train their replacement.

Is this not a breath of fresh air? We've all made mistakes and/or outgrown jobs; we've all had to figure out how to juggle current demands with looking for the next opportunity. There were times you probably wished you could ask your boss about other options in the company, but feared doing so. Imagine if you had been able to do so and then either been helped to find something else internally, or been treated as a respected professional and encouraged to look externally so that you could be professionally fulfilled? 

I recently reposted a blog post titled "You Matter" about how we all need to know that we matter to someone and make a difference. That's what being treated with respect is all about. Whether you end up staying at a job for years or just months, if you have given your time and effort, you deserve that respect. And an employer saying "Hey, sorry this didn't work out. What can I do to make it better? And if that doesn't work, let's talk about how we can move on and stay friends," is the epitome of respect.

Have you been respected? Is there something you can do differently to show someone more respect?

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