“The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.”
Back in the day when Fast Bank and Trust (FEBTC) was one of the best banks to work for, I mustered up the courage to apply for a job in their IT Division. Four sets of interviews, and a month after, I received a list of hiring requirements. I was ecstatic about the opportunity. Only about 20% of the applicants got in.
There are numerous things to learn in the field of Information Technology. Before joining FEBTC, I gathered a good number of years of experience as a developer. I was gradually moving into IT support. The primary goal of my function is to maintain and support the software and hardware requirements of the Bank employees. I had a dozen support engineers who perform scheduled maintenance of the hardware and software in the Head office and the different branches across the country.
I was pumped up with passion, reporting to work on the first day. The team I was managing was also excited about their work. They clearly understood the value they bring into the Bank. We cannot afford to have our IT infrastructure fail us, especially during banking hours.
As expected from a new hire working for my dream company, my first few months were full of new learnings. I reported to their IT facility, eager to work and serve the Bank and the employees.
The first impression of my new manager was great. He said all the right things like, “We are all one team here,” “You can always come to me for questions, I have an open-door policy,” “We welcome new ideas in our department.”
As the months go by, I started noticing that his words did not match his actions. Every time I requested a bit of coaching, he would always politely say that his calendar is already full for the week. We can try next week. He would be quick to shoot down ideas raised by the team in several brainstorming exercises for essential projects. Not only were the suggestions shot down, but it was also unfortunate that the person presenting got a bit of scolding.
In several meetings, he claimed that the successful idea was from him. He seemed to forget to give credit to the people who took his ideas and execute them.
Six months later, I noticed that the team stopped suggesting ideas in meetings. People also started to fear raising bad news. The team stressed that the messenger of bad news would get shot. Unfortunately, this feeling also got to me. I started keeping quiet in meetings. We just allowed our manager to run it the way he wishes. We kept silent for another reason. Keeping quiet allowed us to gather information from the ensuing discussions, so it was not so bad.
You can feel the energy level of the team drop to the ground. Our manager managed to extinguish our passion for our work. Some of the team members started reaching out to head hunters.
Fortunately, our manager was promoted. Yes, he was promoted to another function away from us. His successor was a true blue leader. Our new manager walks the talk. In a few short months, our passion returned, our motivational levels went through the roof.
Leaders! Let us not push our people to stop caring for our organizations. As the old saying goes, “Employees join companies. They do not leave companies. They leave their managers.”