I really enjoy the calls I get from clients who just want to get another perspective or a suggestion on how to approach a delicate situation. This call was no different.
The call came from a manager of a client firm in the southeastern U.S. He was a discouraged high performer who was ready to leave the firm. This really surprised me because the firm held him in high regard and his future there was nothing but blue sky. What happened that he was ready to leave?
After a fairly lengthy call, we finally got to the root of the problem: there was a disconnect between what he was responsible for and what he had authority over. Apparently, he was unable to deliver to the client and meet the firm’s expectations of him because of someone beyond his authority who refused to cooperate. Not a good place to be.
This is not uncommon for mid-level professionals who take their work seriously. They make every effort to succeed but feel thwarted by those their senior. After so much frustration, these rising stars hand in their resignation citing a better opportunity, more work/life balance, or a host of other secondary factors. They rarely state the real reason.
There are two lessons here. First, if you are the one being frustrated, tell the most senior person you can reach. Someone in the firm deserves to know the truth. It is doubtful you are alerting them of something they didn’t already know.
Second, look in the mirror to determine the degree you are the culprit of frustration. Either your own under-performance or what you allow from others is basically the same. Just because no one says anything doesn’t mean you aren’t guilty. Man/Woman up, take responsibility for your failings and do something about it. Just don’t allow your best to leave because of you.
We concluded the call with the manager feeling better about what was really bothering him and how to approach the situation effectively. Several months have passed and fortunately for the firm, the manager is still there, primed to play a huge role in the firm in a few years.