I sat next to a man on the train yesterday and inevitably (I am an extravert you knowww!) we got chatting about ‘what we did for a living’: he was an engineer by profession, a contracts manager on the railways, and was on his way to a monthly meeting with his client in South Yorks.
"Sorry we are letting you go"
As we chatted he started to tell me about a man he had worked for many years previously: a senior manager who had a reputation (well deserved it seemed) for being an unpleasant man and one people didn’t like to work with. My new friend recounted that at one stage he had been involved in several redundancy meetings chaired by this senior manager. In these “sorry we are letting you go” meetings, as soon as the redundant person became distressed, he always said “It’s not personal!”
He said that hearing this stock response over and over again made him feel sick. He told me: “changing someone’s life like that in an instant IS personal!”
Every time he was in a meeting and heard the man say those words, it rankled and angered him until one day he decided he could work for him no longer and left for another job.
If I stopped the story there it would be a great example of people leaving managers not organisations…and also how things change gradually, then suddenly. But there was more…
Consider everything is Personal as a Manager
The man proceeded to tell me how that whole experience had changed him as a manager and changed him as a person. He told me how he knew he was a better manager nowadays, considering everything he did with his team as ‘personal’, relationship orientated, human. He was committed to always putting the people issues first.
Shooting myself in the foot a little here but I love hearing how people learn these big important things, NOT on courses but as part of their every day life experiences.