I really was upset for my good friend after listening to the story of his exit from a place where he had worked for 15 years.
To say he worked there was an understatement – he was synonymous with the place. He was well regarded within the industry and anytime you heard the name of the Irish branch of this international blue chip professional services organisation you would automatically think of him.
He had a senior role there and had for many years. Work, work, work was his life regularly punching in late nights winning and working on some of the best accounts, one’s we would all dream about having on our client list.
The company he worked for have a really good reputation and are well known as being one of the best in the country and internationally within their sector.
“We suspected that there was a change within the international organisation and our small but profitable Irish branch was attracting more scrutiny than usual” he explained
On a nothing Monday in April this year he was asked to meet with some guy he didn’t know from the UK at 4pm. “I have a client meeting at that time, can we do another time?” “No, get the client to meet you another time” he was told.
4pm arrived and this person from the UK he barely knew quickly gave him the corporate blurb about realignment of the organisation, changing trends and by the way.. “we are making your role redundant“.
The language was very careful: He wasn’t being made redundant but his role was and together they would enter a six week consultation process to see how best to accommodate his undoubted talents in the organisation. A senior role in a far flung destination was quickly mentioned.
Shell shocked after this out of the blue news my friend returned to his desk to punch in a few more hours work before heading home. To his shock and dismay his email had been disconnected along with his company phone!
4pm was ‘action stations‘ and the organisation was ruthless in ensuring there was zero risk to them just in case my buddy reacted badly to the news.
Confused and heartbroken he called some of his senior colleagues and good friends within the business to discuss what happened – the worst part of this story is that not one of them returned a call, a text message or an email. They had obviously been briefed.
Of course he took legal advice on-board and was told he had an incredible case against the organisation but it would be drawn out, upsetting and there was a small risk that if it went wrong in any way it could be costly. He also considered his own reputation and felt that if he sued his employer it could be the ‘kiss of death‘ regards trying to find another job in the sector.
A ‘chancer‘ wouldn’t have thought twice about a legal case.
Instead he decided the best course of action was to finish up immediately, avoid the 6 weeks of nonsense and he instructed his solicitor to make contact with the firm and negotiate a settlement.
To me the worst negotiation of all time took place and my friend managed to get statutory redundancy and six months pay on the condition that he couldn’t work in the industry for this period.
Ironically it was his clients that tracked him down and offered him best wishes for the future and hoped to work with him again. Even worse the business had to explain to new clients who had been pitched to by my friend that the person they thought would be doing the work was no longer there.
Sadly, there was no leaving party for my buddy, not even a quiet dinner with some of his close colleagues and friends.
I questioned him about this ..how was this possible?
“That’s just the way it is in big organisations and I guess we have to accept it. All of my close colleagues would have been nervous of their own positions by interacting with me. It’s just business”
I had a peep at the companies website and I saw words such as ‘pioneering spirit’, ‘commitment’, ‘our people’, ‘thought leadership‘ and the best of all was in one of the service offerings ‘we help to foster strong relationships between management and employees‘.
There is always cause and effect ..
..his colleagues have learnt a new lesson about where they work, his clients have also witnessed something quite brutal with someone they knew and trusted and suddenly it is quite a different place. Who is next for the royal treatment? Somehow there is a sting in the tail coming down the track when Mr Karma works his magic.
Logically, rationally, humanely you can’t treat good, loyal, trustworthy people like that just because you have a change of heart about how you want to operate your business ..then again, maybe you can?
For all of us we need to decide how we want to behave and how we want to operate our businesses, how we treat people, most importantly our own teams, our clients and suppliers. Maybe it is more than just business?
Reputation starts from the inside ..