Management sailing–smooth or choppy?

I spoke to a woman I know who was being offered a new job with a new company; the money was good, not a huge jump, but an industry she wanted to be in, and willing to take it for a not-so-big increase, a perfectly legit reason.

Well regarded at her current company, she announced her resignation. The immediate answer, (not surprisingly) was a 25% pay increase, a bigger title and larger regional scope. Not too shabby, and she’s been there nearly a decade.

Her reaction to the increase??

Managed anger (and she likes her boss a lot) and said to him “If I hadn’t announced my resignation you never would have offered any of that to me, would you?” He agreed-grudgingly.

This sort of pas-de-deux is typical when someone resigns,the hasty counteroffer and the rejoinder of indignation upon receiving it. What is the lesson learned?

If you’re managing a group, always always communicate with your top performers and see what will jazz them. If they’re that good, you have to keep thinking ahead of how to allow them more growth. Never assume they’re ‘fine where they are.’ You’ll get caught flatfooted, and ultimately someone above you will [directly or indirectly] ask why you can’t retain your best talent.

Everyone is looking, some more actively than others, but looking nonetheless. Your job is to focus less on your job (‘steering the ship and looking at the horizon.’). If that’s how you manage, get off the effing deck and get under with the deckhands.

Be aware: if you don’t know what they want, they’ll either abandon ship or create a mutiny. But if you do know their aspirations, and can satisfy most of them most of the time, (and make the others walk the plank) you’ll have smooth sailing–most of the time.


Written by Neal Horwitz, President of Henry Hale Maguire


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