Who's next for the chop?
In the last couple of months a few colleagues have left World Vision Australia. Some people think there is a new policy to get rid of people.
There is not.
When people leave there is always doubt and anxiety.
It is not usually possible for everyone to know everything about why people leave.
Some people leave for better jobs. Some leave to do study. For some the “better job” is parenthood. When this is the case we probably all do know about it, and celebrate.
Some people leave because they come to the conclusion that they are in the wrong job. When that happens they may make this clear to other staff. We express our sympathy and best wishes for the future.
Some people leave because World Vision comes to the conclusion that they are in the wrong job. This is usually more difficult and complicated. Sometimes the person agrees with World Vision's judgement. Sometimes they don't. This can cause unhappiness, of course, but a bad job fit is not grounds for dismissal unless there is a performance problem. And often there is - unhappy people tend not to give their best.
Some people leave because they have a pattern of inadequate performance. While performance appraisals are private matters, it is not uncommon for workmates to realise what's happening. Our workmates are the first to be affected by our own performance.
Some people leave because their job changes around them. This is called redundancy. As World Vision grows and changes, the work we do changes too. People who start in one job find that job changing. Sometimes this turns a square hole into a round one. Some people learn new skills and change with the job. Others don't.
In the last couple of months, people have left World Vision Australia for all the above reasons. And one or two have left because they decided not to come with us to Burwood East.
I've taken an interest in these departures, because I don't like people leaving. I always want to know why.
I've had the chance to talk to some of those who have left. A couple have been angry at how they have been treated. In one case, at least, I think World Vision managers did not handle things as well as we might. I think we have learnt from that experience and will not repeat the mistake.
Just the same, I am satisfied that in every case, the reasons for the separation were reasonably held and clearly provided to the person involved. In other words, performance or job change issues were objectively and compassionately considered. Not only that, but the information was provided (usually more than once) to the person involved.
Job change is a very difficult process. It is often painful. Even if you make the decision yourself. If the boss wants to talk to you about unsatisfactory performance, it's a whole lot worse.
Naturally some people do not react calmly or reasonably in such circumstances. That's true of managers as well as the person in the spotlight.
One distressing consequence of these departures is a grapevine rumour that asks, “Is there a hit list?”
When I first heard this, I laughed. But then I realised the person was serious.
Let me reassure you. Every single separation has been an isolated event. There is no relationship between these events, save World Vision's continuing concern to ensure our people find their work fulfilling, and that we all continue to make worthwhile contributions to achieving the mission of the organisation.
There is no hit list. If you are a bit mystified about some of the departures it is probably only because there is personal information which it would not be fair to make public.
Another rumour is that we are cutting back on staff to pay for the building. This is nonsense. This would be a very stupid thing for World Vision to do. People are employed here because important work needs to be done. The building is an entirely separate matter. Even in our worst case scenario for the building, we shall not be taking any action to reduce staff numbers.
It is an unhappy coincidence that a number of these departures seem to have happened in a short space of time. This is just coincidence. We did not, and would not, plan it this way.
I hope you know me well enough to realise that if I decided we needed to cut staff, I would say so loudly and clearly.
My policy is that the people who are most affected by decisions should hear about them first. This is what valuing people means. So if you've only heard rumours, it isn't happening.