Being a father of two small children, I witness first hand how quickly things change and especially how quickly people grow. My sons favorite shirt from last summer can’t be worn and enjoyed this summer because he’s outgrown it. Those princess shoes that my daughter wants to play in can’t be worn just yet because they’re too big. Sometimes they realize the inevitable, but oftentimes someone has to explain to them that if something doesn’t fit, something different needs to be done.
Some things just don’t fit, no matter how hard you try to make them. Square pegs into round holes. Oil, water. That employee, this job. And just like that little shirt, even if one manages to get it on, it will never be comfortable. And it hurts worse trying to get it off.
And there’s nothing more unfortunate than watching employers and employees trying to force their opposing styles and beliefs on one another. When there are differences in work-place philosophy and business ideology, how much one likes the other won’t compensate for the professional disconnect. Someone will always be chasing their tail trying to change an environment that doesn’t want to change, trying to alter how they think or how they approach work, which ultimately results in trying to change the address on their business cards. Relationship isn’t always a fix for disengagement and poor fit.
You’ve seen it. The employee that had so much potential at first…did everything right, maybe too quickly. Once they started to settle in, she begins to understand the company culture and she doesn’t like it. It doesn’t feel right anymore. Thoughts of the next day keep her awake at night. Her work doesn’t suffer while she’s searching for a means of escape, but it doesn’t get better. Now on top of regret and employer remorse, there are impromptu “heart-to-hearts” from management about lofty expectations and why she should like it there. She’s productive, but the results of their full potential will not be seen there. It just may not be the right fit.
You’ve seen it. Companies making sacrifices for their employees, but they never seem to get the desired reaction. As a whole, they feel good about the tools they’ve provided, the wealth of knowledge they’re making available, but the employees just aren’t buying in. Management tries changing the approach, nothing. They change a process or two to accommodate, but employee behavior doesn’t change along with it. No matter how badly the company wants them to, the employee doesn’t take hold to the values and mission that are being preached. It just may not be the right fit.
Ultimately, the employer begins to think the employee is not working hard enough…and the employee is thinking that the leadership is out of touch. While a strong Human Resources team can help to bridge this gap, that same team, if its worth its salt, should be advising managers and employees alike when it may be time to move on…when it’s time to stop the madness and the vicious cycle…when it’s time to throw the little shirt away or to put the big shoes away and wait.
Who Moves First?
At some point, there has to be a wake up call and an admission that its not working. HR can help, but its better when the involved parties can draw the conclusion themselves. Employers hate admitting that they’ve failed in hiring, training or creating atmosphere…and prideful employees hate admitting that they can’t adapt to the companies requirements, expectations and culture. Similar to a fizzling relationship, no one is necessarily wrong, they may just be different. Just like the growth spurt from last summer or not growing fast enough, it’s just reality and it has to be faced. And for both employer and employee’s sake, the denial can’t last for too long.