The $5k Break-Up: It's Not You, It's Us

May 19 2014, 6:20am CDT | by

By Shaun Spearmon

It’s graduation season again. Over the next two months, undergraduate and graduate students the world over will hear lofty speeches from notable figures encouraging them to go out and make their mark on the world. They will be instructed to follow their dreams and not simply resort to chasing the almighty dollar.

Last year I offered tips for maximizing new grad energy, but today’s employers face a different challenge. Unfortunately, the state of the economy and rising student loan debts will force many of these students to take the first offer with the biggest paycheck. Who could blame them for foregoing an all-to-elusive dream job to address the harsh, post-grad financial realities? However, sustaining a less-than-engaged workforce that is solely motivated by money is becoming an issue for organizations. A recent Gallup poll shows that “active disengagement” costs the US $450 billion to $550 billion each year. Enter the Pay to Quit concept. Mimicking a program created by Zappos, Jeff Bezos announced he will begin offering employees in Amazon fulfillment centers up to $5,000 to quit. Bezos and many of his peers have come to the realization that to not only compete, but more importantly to win, it is essential that their organizations shed employees whose hearts aren’t engaged.

As progressive and extraordinary as Amazon’s Pay to Quit program may sound, it shouldn’t be. We’ve all likely been in a relationship where it was mutually understood, albeit in silence, that it was going nowhere. We allow these relationships to linger on until something drastic or catastrophic happens that makes it easier to call it quits. However, delaying the inevitable is more costly and emotionally draining – and it can cause far more lasting damage. The relationship one has with their employer is no different.

Neil Sedaka nailed it: breaking-up is hard to do. Nonetheless, if you are in a relationship that is fatally flawed – personal or professional – somebody has to do it. Or perhaps, as a leader you can reduce the likelihood that a break-up with your new recruits will be required. Here are a few tips:

  1. Be transparent – don’t bury the headlines. It may feel a little uncomfortable, but to truly maximize the potential of your newest recruits, put it all out there – the good, the bad, and the ugly. There’s absolutely nothing sexy about secrets in a relationship, and there’s nothing more counterproductive to your organization than a bunch of fired-up employees that haven’t received a clear vision of how they can add value. If you want to reduce the ramp-up time for a new employee, have an honest conversation with them about: the organization’s opportunities to win, why the organization is uniquely positioned to seize these opportunities, and the barriers that stand in the way. The disengagement that comes after their excitement wanes is the opportunity cost for delaying this dialogue 60, 90, 120 days. This should sufficiently motivate you to want to have that conversation as soon as possible.
  2. Extend an invitation to act…NOW. You’ve given your newbies the opportunity to look under the hood of the organization. Now they’re not only well acquainted with the image projected externally, they’re also fully aware of the baggage (past failures, missteps, and oversights) – information strictly reserved for those members of the organization’s “circle of trust.” Your transparency didn’t send them running for the exits, but don’t celebrate yet. You invited them to join your organization because they have the potential to make the team better. Invite them to act. If they’re bought-in, they’ll eagerly accept the invitation. The younger generation is frequently stereotyped by its impatience and inability to stay put. While this is a sweeping generalization, it is a trait that can be leveraged for good. It is fair to say that Millennials – and new hires in general – desire to make a meaningful impact, NOW! So let them. They are likely the primary source of the innovative ideas that will advance the organization. At a minimum they may create the space for organizational efficiencies simply because you’ve given them the authority to challenge the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” rationale. Moreover, the trust and clarity established at the beginning of this relationship should provide the confidence that your newbies are acting in the best interest of the organization. Help them help you.
  3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 Over and Over and Over… “Failure to communicate” is frequently offered as the root cause for many terminated relationships. However, in any relationship, communication is omnipresent. It is the message – be it active, passive, or passive aggressive – that seals the fate of a relationship. In other words, the question is not whether both parties in a relationship are talking to each other. The real question is what is being heard. All relationships require consistent, timely, and thoughtful communication. Without it, the message that gets communicated, perhaps inadvertently, is “It’s not important” or “I don’t care.” Steps 1 and 2 describe a dialogue between you and your new people that yields engagement. These conversations should not simply occur during the first few days of employment or just during the annual performance review. Relationships – professional and personal – are strengthened by constant, real-time feedback. Steps 1 and 2 set an expectation that you will provide real-time information regarding the organization’s strategic imperatives, its opportunities, and its barriers. Moreover, you set an expectation that their role is critical and therefore they have an invitation to act. However, simply having an annual “check-in” makes that invitation feel disingenuous. Disengagement sets in and, for some employees, the Pay to Quit incentive begins to look very attractive.

A program like Pay to Quit is not the silver bullet that will rid today’s organizations of disgruntled and disengaged employees. Meeting financial obligations and/or maintaining healthcare plans are reasons enough for many people to just keep their heads down, mouths shut, and clock in and out of a professional relationship they are fully aware is going nowhere.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Hopefully, organizations seeking to employ Pay to Quit will be forced to first hold up a mirror and take a good look at their relationships and how they are maintained. Believe it or not, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.



Shaun Spearmon
helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations at Kotter International. Follow us on @KotterIntlFacebook, or Linkedin. Sign up for the Kotter International Newsletter.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Russian rocket with space freighter launched
Moscow, Oct 29 (IANS/TASS) Russia launched Soyuz-2.1a rocket with space freighter Progress M-25M from Baikonur space centre Wednesday, Russian space agency Roscosmos told TASS.
 
 
How body clock governs female fertility
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Treating infertility in women may soon have a new approach as researchers have now identified the biological clock that governs female fertility.
 
 
Add spices and herbs in food for super health
Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) Spices and herbs not only offer a zingy flavour to your food, they can also improve your health by helping to reduce sodium, calorie and fat intake, finds research.
 
 
High milk intake may lead to early death: Study
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Instead of strengthening your bones, drinking more than three glasses of milk a day may increase the risk of early death, a study has found.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Chloe Grace Moretz: I'm a geek
Chloe Grace Moretz is a ''geek'' when she's at home. The 17-year-old actress - who can be seen playing a prostitute alongside Denzel Washington in new action thriller film 'The Equalizer' - insists she lives a pretty...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
High powered MRI scans identify language centres in brain
Vienna, Oct 29 (IANS) A study from the Medical University of Vienna found how 7-Tesla ultra high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be used to clearly show the brain areas responsible for speech processing...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Timothy Spall sees 'certain parallels' with William Turner
Timothy Spall sees ''certain parallels'' between himself and William Turner. Spall, 57, plays the influential painter in his new film 'Mr. Turner', for which he won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, and...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Trinidad cricket board condemns Windies players pull out
Port-of-Spain, Oct 29 (IANS/CMC) The Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) has condemned the recent decision by the West Indies cricketers to abort their tour of India. The condemnation came in the form of a motion...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Binge drinking hampers memory in long run
Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) High doses of alcohol during adolescence may continue to affect the brain even after drinking stops, leading to structural changes in the brain and memory deficits, says a significant study....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
EU: inspiring innovation through 3D-printed robot
Brussels, Oct 29 (IANS) The European Union (EU) said that it has a 3D-printed robot ready to be introduced in schools to cultivate the creativity of students studying mechanics, computer sciences, electronics and 3D...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
'Confident West Indies will appear in 2015 World Cup'
Sydney, Oct 29 (IANS/CMC) John Harden, 2015 Cricket World Cup chief executive, has said he is confident that the former champions West Indies will appear at next year's event in Australia and New Zealand. Harden...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
NASA cargo spacecraft explodes minutes after launch
Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) In a shocking incident, an unmanned commercial rocket carrying crucial scientific cargo for the International Space Station (ISS) exploded moments after lift-off Tuesday evening. Orbital...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Sleep disturbances linked to higher Alzheimer's risk in men
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Elderly men with self-reported sleep disturbances run a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than men without self-reported sleep disturbances, says a study. "We demonstrate that men...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Champ Bailey Retires From the NFL
Former Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey retired from the NFL on Oct. 28.Bailey ends his career as one of the top shutdown cornerbacks in league history, per Ben Swanson of the Broncos' official website:"Longtime...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
 
The $5k Break-Up: It's Not You, It's Us - Business Balla
 

The $5k Break-Up: It's Not You, It's Us

May 19 2014, 6:20am CDT | by

By Shaun Spearmon

It’s graduation season again. Over the next two months, undergraduate and graduate students the world over will hear lofty speeches from notable figures encouraging them to go out and make their mark on the world. They will be instructed to follow their dreams and not simply resort to chasing the almighty dollar.

Last year I offered tips for maximizing new grad energy, but today’s employers face a different challenge. Unfortunately, the state of the economy and rising student loan debts will force many of these students to take the first offer with the biggest paycheck. Who could blame them for foregoing an all-to-elusive dream job to address the harsh, post-grad financial realities? However, sustaining a less-than-engaged workforce that is solely motivated by money is becoming an issue for organizations. A recent Gallup poll shows that “active disengagement” costs the US $450 billion to $550 billion each year. Enter the Pay to Quit concept. Mimicking a program created by Zappos, Jeff Bezos announced he will begin offering employees in Amazon fulfillment centers up to $5,000 to quit. Bezos and many of his peers have come to the realization that to not only compete, but more importantly to win, it is essential that their organizations shed employees whose hearts aren’t engaged.

As progressive and extraordinary as Amazon’s Pay to Quit program may sound, it shouldn’t be. We’ve all likely been in a relationship where it was mutually understood, albeit in silence, that it was going nowhere. We allow these relationships to linger on until something drastic or catastrophic happens that makes it easier to call it quits. However, delaying the inevitable is more costly and emotionally draining – and it can cause far more lasting damage. The relationship one has with their employer is no different.

Neil Sedaka nailed it: breaking-up is hard to do. Nonetheless, if you are in a relationship that is fatally flawed – personal or professional – somebody has to do it. Or perhaps, as a leader you can reduce the likelihood that a break-up with your new recruits will be required. Here are a few tips:

  1. Be transparent – don’t bury the headlines. It may feel a little uncomfortable, but to truly maximize the potential of your newest recruits, put it all out there – the good, the bad, and the ugly. There’s absolutely nothing sexy about secrets in a relationship, and there’s nothing more counterproductive to your organization than a bunch of fired-up employees that haven’t received a clear vision of how they can add value. If you want to reduce the ramp-up time for a new employee, have an honest conversation with them about: the organization’s opportunities to win, why the organization is uniquely positioned to seize these opportunities, and the barriers that stand in the way. The disengagement that comes after their excitement wanes is the opportunity cost for delaying this dialogue 60, 90, 120 days. This should sufficiently motivate you to want to have that conversation as soon as possible.
  2. Extend an invitation to act…NOW. You’ve given your newbies the opportunity to look under the hood of the organization. Now they’re not only well acquainted with the image projected externally, they’re also fully aware of the baggage (past failures, missteps, and oversights) – information strictly reserved for those members of the organization’s “circle of trust.” Your transparency didn’t send them running for the exits, but don’t celebrate yet. You invited them to join your organization because they have the potential to make the team better. Invite them to act. If they’re bought-in, they’ll eagerly accept the invitation. The younger generation is frequently stereotyped by its impatience and inability to stay put. While this is a sweeping generalization, it is a trait that can be leveraged for good. It is fair to say that Millennials – and new hires in general – desire to make a meaningful impact, NOW! So let them. They are likely the primary source of the innovative ideas that will advance the organization. At a minimum they may create the space for organizational efficiencies simply because you’ve given them the authority to challenge the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” rationale. Moreover, the trust and clarity established at the beginning of this relationship should provide the confidence that your newbies are acting in the best interest of the organization. Help them help you.
  3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 Over and Over and Over… “Failure to communicate” is frequently offered as the root cause for many terminated relationships. However, in any relationship, communication is omnipresent. It is the message – be it active, passive, or passive aggressive – that seals the fate of a relationship. In other words, the question is not whether both parties in a relationship are talking to each other. The real question is what is being heard. All relationships require consistent, timely, and thoughtful communication. Without it, the message that gets communicated, perhaps inadvertently, is “It’s not important” or “I don’t care.” Steps 1 and 2 describe a dialogue between you and your new people that yields engagement. These conversations should not simply occur during the first few days of employment or just during the annual performance review. Relationships – professional and personal – are strengthened by constant, real-time feedback. Steps 1 and 2 set an expectation that you will provide real-time information regarding the organization’s strategic imperatives, its opportunities, and its barriers. Moreover, you set an expectation that their role is critical and therefore they have an invitation to act. However, simply having an annual “check-in” makes that invitation feel disingenuous. Disengagement sets in and, for some employees, the Pay to Quit incentive begins to look very attractive.

A program like Pay to Quit is not the silver bullet that will rid today’s organizations of disgruntled and disengaged employees. Meeting financial obligations and/or maintaining healthcare plans are reasons enough for many people to just keep their heads down, mouths shut, and clock in and out of a professional relationship they are fully aware is going nowhere.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Hopefully, organizations seeking to employ Pay to Quit will be forced to first hold up a mirror and take a good look at their relationships and how they are maintained. Believe it or not, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.



Shaun Spearmon
helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations at Kotter International. Follow us on @KotterIntlFacebook, or Linkedin. Sign up for the Kotter International Newsletter.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Russian rocket with space freighter launched
Moscow, Oct 29 (IANS/TASS) Russia launched Soyuz-2.1a rocket with space freighter Progress M-25M from Baikonur space centre Wednesday, Russian space agency Roscosmos told TASS.
 
 
How body clock governs female fertility
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Treating infertility in women may soon have a new approach as researchers have now identified the biological clock that governs female fertility.
 
 
Add spices and herbs in food for super health
Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) Spices and herbs not only offer a zingy flavour to your food, they can also improve your health by helping to reduce sodium, calorie and fat intake, finds research.
 
 
High milk intake may lead to early death: Study
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Instead of strengthening your bones, drinking more than three glasses of milk a day may increase the risk of early death, a study has found.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Chloe Grace Moretz: I'm a geek
Chloe Grace Moretz is a ''geek'' when she's at home. The 17-year-old actress - who can be seen playing a prostitute alongside Denzel Washington in new action thriller film 'The Equalizer' - insists she lives a pretty...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
High powered MRI scans identify language centres in brain
Vienna, Oct 29 (IANS) A study from the Medical University of Vienna found how 7-Tesla ultra high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be used to clearly show the brain areas responsible for speech processing...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Timothy Spall sees 'certain parallels' with William Turner
Timothy Spall sees ''certain parallels'' between himself and William Turner. Spall, 57, plays the influential painter in his new film 'Mr. Turner', for which he won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, and...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Trinidad cricket board condemns Windies players pull out
Port-of-Spain, Oct 29 (IANS/CMC) The Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) has condemned the recent decision by the West Indies cricketers to abort their tour of India. The condemnation came in the form of a motion...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Binge drinking hampers memory in long run
Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) High doses of alcohol during adolescence may continue to affect the brain even after drinking stops, leading to structural changes in the brain and memory deficits, says a significant study....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
EU: inspiring innovation through 3D-printed robot
Brussels, Oct 29 (IANS) The European Union (EU) said that it has a 3D-printed robot ready to be introduced in schools to cultivate the creativity of students studying mechanics, computer sciences, electronics and 3D...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
'Confident West Indies will appear in 2015 World Cup'
Sydney, Oct 29 (IANS/CMC) John Harden, 2015 Cricket World Cup chief executive, has said he is confident that the former champions West Indies will appear at next year's event in Australia and New Zealand. Harden...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
NASA cargo spacecraft explodes minutes after launch
Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) In a shocking incident, an unmanned commercial rocket carrying crucial scientific cargo for the International Space Station (ISS) exploded moments after lift-off Tuesday evening. Orbital...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Sleep disturbances linked to higher Alzheimer's risk in men
London, Oct 29 (IANS) Elderly men with self-reported sleep disturbances run a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than men without self-reported sleep disturbances, says a study. "We demonstrate that men...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Champ Bailey Retires From the NFL
Former Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey retired from the NFL on Oct. 28.Bailey ends his career as one of the top shutdown cornerbacks in league history, per Ben Swanson of the Broncos' official website:"Longtime...
Read more on Sport Balla