During our meeting today, I noticed that Anne was reading an article about "The Great Resignation." Being the curious character that I am, I asked her what it was about. I am sure you won't be surprised when I tell you that Anne chuckled before answering.
"In today's world, The Great Resignation is the anticipated mass migration of employees away from their current employers, in search of better opportunities, as we emerge from the COVID19 restrictions.
"But, I have been thinking about the great resignations I have seen at my company over the years.
"When I was young and a new business owner, (age 25 years), the only form of leadership I had experienced was "command and control" so that is how I led my fledgling company. I was thrifty with praise and generous with criticism; a poor listener, quick to dismiss suggestions from my employees. I was the "boss" with the power of position, prerogative and privilege.
"One day, Darlene came to my office to suggest that we make some modifications - I don't remember what for - and, I confess, I didn't even listen to her whole explanation before dismissing it. Darlene lost her temper and shouted at me, "Anne Miner, you are the worst boss ever! I quit!" Although I was surprised at the time, and life went on, I have never forgotten that day.
"Of course, I didn't learn to change after only one episode. There were several other spectacular departures over the years. There was the fellow who put a copy of his vicious letter of resignation on every desk in the entire office, before delivering it to me, there was the woman who left the office and called from a payphone to say she was never coming back and the resignation by email on Easter Sunday.
"Each time I learned a little more about how employees didn't like to be treated. And each time, I experienced both embarrassment and the pain of having to replace them.
"I read voraciously trying to figure out how to be a better leader; how to inspire and encourage my team to want to deliver, to want to improve, to want to meet deadlines, to want to get along, and fundamentally to want to come to work.
"The feedback I received from my employees indicated that I was seen as an intimidating figure and several people confessed to being afraid of me. People who live in fear do not produce their best work.
"When the company was approaching its 10th anniversary, I went back to school to get an MBA. And, The Dunvegan Group team helped by participating in conversations, round table discussions and filling out evaluations. I learned from the MBA program and I learned from my classmates. But most of all, I learned from my employees.
"And, I got to be a better leader. I learned to listen, include, appreciate and acknowledge the contributions of my employees. I showed them that I cared about their well-being and their success. We implemented cross-training and showed everyone where they fit into the organization and the products we produced.
"When people saw how vital their contributions were to the success of the company, they performed even better; with cross-training, they were better able to share the workload and even implement actual job sharing.
"It was a slow process, and I am still learning."
Wow. I had no idea that Anne had ever been anything but kind, compassionate, inspiring, encouraging and humble. Both her employees and her clients have stayed with her for many years; in fact, I can't even think of a resignation in the past five years.
I am reminded of the conversations we have had about the Imposter Syndrome, Servant Leadership and the Platinum Rule®. I now have a better understanding of why Anne told me those stories; they all contributed to making her who she is!