Let me start by saying this is NOT an April Fool’s Joke. This is a true story.
I do lay the ‘blame’ for this post squarely two members of my #SQLFamily: first on the heels of Grant Fritchey and his post by he same name. He in turn lays blame on Jen McCown’s post by the same name.
I mention elsewhere in my blog I prefer to be intelligiently lazy, so rather than retype, I’ll post the content from a Quora answer I wrote. Technically I was just a consultant, and after twice getting a late check I made it clear to them that if they stopped paying me on time, I would stop working. Apparently they liked me enough that a quick call to the CFO would get me a check cut that day.
So with that:
Let me give you an example of a client I once had. When I started with them, people loved working there and they were expanding and successful. So successful the company got bought.
Then… things changed.
Sales people were finding their expense checks weren’t getting paid (more on that later). Did you know, even if you try to explain to the credit card company that it’s a “company card” if it’s in your name and the company doesn’t pay it, you’ll ruin your credit score? Yes, it’s pretty difficult to be a sales person who can’t travel because no one will give you a credit card any more!
Then, to cut costs, an office move was proposed. Quite frankly, had I not been involved as their IT guy, it would have been a disaster for a variety of reasons. Fortunately for them, besides my IT skills, I could read blueprints. It was quite obvious to me that 2 outlets would not serve an office of 20–25 people with computers and printers. It took me nearly kidnapping the CFO on a day he visited and dragging him to the office to make clear how much more work the office needed. They simply assumed, “oh, it’ll have enough power.”
Meanwhile the previous owner had started a new company (in a completely different industry) and was growing and expanding at a furious rate. Also, my wife was a recruiter at another local company (in a different industry also). The only thing all three of these companies had in common was they all were software related, but the fields they served were completely different.
At one point, the top sales person from the failing company left to go get a job a with the new company. Within days the former company sent a cease and desist letter to the new company insisting they stop poaching employees and if they continued, they’d sue the owner for violating the non-compete clause. Now, keep in mind the owner was very much NOT approaching employees of the old company, but even if he were, the non-compete only applied if he had founded a new company in the same industry. he hadn’t. We had a good laugh at the old company.
Now, meanwhile, my wife, while not exactly poaching, knew that almost any offer she made would be accepted since morale was so bad at the old company.
Then… this happened. I was there for the meeting and sat in on it. It’s the closest I’ve come to “beatings will continue until morale improves” ever.
The CFO and CEO came into town for an all-hands meeting. Their goal was to address, among other things, the late employee expense checks issue.
I will say, they had some pretty looking slides. The slides showed things like cash-flow, moving towards profitability and some other items. But the message was quite clear, “We will continue to pay YOUR expense checks as late as possible because it helps our cash flow. And you should be grateful for this.” They very much could NOT understand why employees were furious that their expenses were basically being used as no-interest loans by the company. The rate of exits accelerated after that.
What had been a thriving company became a dying, decaying shell of a company in under a year because of the management.
One of the developers who left the old company ended up at the new company. He submitted his expense check. He was reasonable, he knew it would probably hit his next pay cycle. He was OK with that. I still recall the look on his face when later that day someone from finance walked in with his expense check. They were under no obligation to turn it around that fast and he certainly wasn’t expecting it. But they did so. They “bought” his loyalty that day by a simple gesture.
So, if people are leaving, trying to force them to stay will backfire. Figure out what you’re doing wrong and fix it.