Rarely do I dread getting up and going to work. Today, however, is one of those rare days.
Partners let me know yesterday by phone that today could be a challenge, and then this morning by text they confirmed it. We have been slowly culling our latest batch of associates, and I have known a few were just poor fits and not going to be part of our long-term staffing solution. Things have been sort of treading water, deciding what if any action to take, and since the first of the year it has been maintain status quo through end of the first quarter.
Except yesterday it became “let’s rip the bandaid off right now” and see where we are in terms of present and future workload. So today when I got to the office I was not sure if it was to be a mass departure of “only” 6 or up to 8 staff members. I say it that way because 2 were on the bubble. There was potential with some further rehab and restructuring of work habits, but ongoing debate of how much and how far we as management are willing to go to try and create a better team member.
By the time I arrived at 9, it had been decided it would be 8 leaving us, winnowing the firm down to a mere 20. However, a fresh start of recruiting was to begin as well.
Separating staff from the firm is never fun or enjoyable. Separating this many people all on a single day is chaos and made for a very busy, relatively awful day for me. Of the 8, only 2 were tearful and emotional, and I am unfortunately not tough enough to do this well and without some poor feelings. By lunch the deeds were done, offices cleared out, final paychecks disbursed, former employees deleted from the network, office and building security systems.
And I am not sure how to feel about it.
Intellectually, I understand the reasoning behind the choices made. For a variety of reasons, the employment contract was not benefitting the firm. If the departed staff had all been obnoxious asshats all the time it would be easier, but poor fit within a culture or established environment does not mean they did not have redeeming qualities or nice personalities. In at least 2 cases they were far too nice, far too accommodating, and far too timid to pull themselves up and out of their own ways. Those were hard.
Emotionally, though, I feel somewhat terrible about the situations. These are real people for whom these jobs were their livelihood. However, I know there were conversations, coaching conferences, additional training, allocation of other resources to try and make it work. Unfortunately not every job fits every employee despite both sides best intentions.
In a larger corporation, it seems easier, far less personal, because everything is so much more impersonal. In a small business organization, where the sum total of the entire firm is on a single floor in an office building, it is impossible not to know everyone in the firm by name and be at least somewhat acquainted with them on a personal as well as professional level. There are no loners or shunned employees around here, and every single one of us still here recognizes the empty offices and the signs of a purge. It can be demoralizing, even when it is a sound business decision, even when you are part of the management team implementing the purge.
Change is good, cutting away at dysfunctional professional relationships will strengthen and allow growth for the remaining staff. Or so I will tell myself over the next days or weeks when thinking about it.
But I hate it. I hate the all-hands staff meeting that comes afterward where the departures are discussed in the most general of terms and the updated vision for remaining staff, planned new/replacement hires, and where we go from here is discussed. Frankly I hate recruiting as well, because it’s tedious and time consuming to ask and answer the same questions for every single candidate.
Ripping off the bandaid in this situation is likely the correct call. But it makes for a long, hard work day. It is why I get paid the just-right-amount-of-bucks. Except days like today, it feels like I have been running marathons all day long to earn my salary.
Huffy puffy indeed. Too bad my fancy-smancy judgmental Fitbit does not recognize the effort.
Ah well. Tomorrow is another day.