By Antony Rahman
Organizational changes and restructuring are a deeply embedded and inescapable aspect of corporate culture. A successful business is ever changing, always trying to enhance and improve in various ways, and these shifts can often have negative and upsetting repercussions on the people employed there. Even the top brass of any given corporation are not immune to this, and sometimes people in influential positions are forced to step down and end their tenure. When this happens it is very important, even absolutely imperative for all parties involved to present the transition as a graceful affair, with no hurt feelings or bad blood involved. Preserving the reputations of both the company and the departing individual is mutually beneficial in the long term.
Cyrus Mistry, chairman of the $102 billion company Tata Group, was recently and abruptly replaced by Ratan Tata who has taken on the position of interim chairman for the next four months. This is unusual as Tata Group is known for its good code of conduct and impressive ethical principles in matters related to their employees. Following that, Tata group released a statement filled with vague sentiments and lacking in information, which caused unrest and confusion among customers and shareholders alike. That Cyrus Mistry did not resign of his own free will spoke of possible altercations or a deeply rooted lack of trust among the top echelons of the organization, and even now speculation is rife as to what exactly transpired and what it means for everyone involved with the company, whether it be employees, managers, or shareholders. Clearly, the company has taken a hit to its image and reputation, even if the change turns out to be an improvement and net gain for them, their integrity and conduct is still brought into question.
This state of affairs can obviously have long reaching negative consequences for everyone involved, and as such organizations should aim to avoid this sort of occurrence within their own sphere. There are many steps that can be taken to help with this, not only from the organization in question but from the departing individual as well.
When a company decides that one of their top level employees departure is unavoidable, they should put a significant amount of time and effort into preparing beforehand in various ways, such as informing the individual in question ahead of time to allow them some time to think everything through calmly and clearly, and offering to make the transition as smooth as possible. This can be achieved by offering the employee a reasonable severance package, and by attempting to help them secure employment in the future through good references and recommendations. Care must be taken in preparing a P.R. Statement to be issued to the shareholders and employees which don’t paint the departing individual in a negative light. In particular, it is important for a business to control and cultivate the gossip and rumor mills inherent to every workplace, so that changes in the top level and management structure are not seen negatively, but rather as a part of the growth and progress of the company. In relation to this, another thing to consider when an influential member of a company leaves is how big the company is. When a company consists of a smaller number of people, an important or influential employee leaving can cause significant unrest and turnover among the remaining workers, as smaller workforces are more likely to be tightly knit groups. In contrast to this, any one person leaving a large company is likely to have a relatively smaller impact on the rest of the employee base.
However difficult and unsatisfying it may feel, it is also always essential for the person on their way out to do their part in not exacerbating the problems of a termination. There are several ways for the person in question to avoid leaving behind resentment and render themselves less susceptible to unflattering assumptions about their competence as an employee and even their character. The best way to show grace in this situation is for the departing employee to help hand over the reigns of their previous position to their successor. This takes a significant amount of tact and poise and serves to display to everyone that you are not leaving on bad terms, or being terminated on account of a bad personality or character flaw. In addition to this, it is also helpful to express appreciation for the training, experiences, and relationships that you’ve cultivated during your stay in the organization. Thanking the people who supported you on your journey and making an effort to keep in touch with them in the future helps not only to make a graceful exit but can go a long way towards ensuring a fruitful and satisfying professional future.
Even though most of the above is fairly obvious and can even be termed common sense, in situations like these it can be very difficult for all involved parties to maintain a calm and rational atmosphere. Tempers flare, feelings and egos are hurt, and overall it is not commonly a pleasant circumstance. However, at the end of the day, the most beneficial course is never the one that ends up smearing and damaging the public and internal image of everyone involved, but rather a mutually beneficial and amicable transition.