The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, decided to make some changes at the top this week, and announced the departure of two senior executives¬†in an¬†open memo. Gone are¬†Tony Bates, EVP of development and evangelism, and¬†Tami Reller, EVP of marketing, one of¬†the top female leaders at Microsoft. Why though?
Well,there¬†were certainly some¬†logical, pragmatic reasons.¬†Bates was¬†CEO of Skype and came to Microsoft when the latter purchased them in 2011.¬†He was an internal candidate for the CEO job Nadella eventually got. When he was passed over, he reportedly told his new boss he couldn't make a long-term¬†commitment to the company.¬†Nothing unusual there.
Tami Reller also came to Microsoft via an acquisition, and she has only worked at two companies her entire career.¬†In his memo, the CEO¬†said he wanted one person to run all the marketing for the company, and he chose someone else. It's a fairly typical thing for the CEO of a giant global company to put some of their own team in place, much like a head coach hiring their own assistants.
Is there something else though? And can it be found in the CEO's memo, as this post in Business Insider wonders?
"Having the Senior Leadership Team¬†set both pace and example means a lot to me. I have discussed this point in various forms with the SLT and have asked for their all in commitment."
The Microsoft CEO said: "We all need to do our best work, have broad impact and find real meaning in the work we do. Coming together as teams fuels this on a day-to-day basis. And having the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) set both pace and example means a lot to me. I have discussed this point in various forms with the SLT and have asked for their all in commitment as we embark on the next chapter for the company. We need to drive clarity, alignment and intensity across all our work."
What exactly does that mean to an outsider reading between the lines?¬†That¬†these direct reports weren't all in?
These high-level departures got me thinking about various ways to handle talent turnover, and how to announce it to the public.
A local TV station I know of was famous for calling people into the news director's office, letting them go, then having a security guard escort them to their car, telling them on the way out, "We'll box up your things and send them to you." Ouch.
So we can all agree that is decidedly not the way to do it.¬†Here's how Sallie Krawcheck,¬†former president of the Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America, says in¬†a LinkedIn blog post¬†to do it.
"Your former employees are a ready-made network, one that has certainly demonstrated an interest in your company."
"Think of all that we are learning about the extraordinary power of networks; and think of all the time, effort and money companies are investing¬†to build that network. Your former employees are a ready-made network, one that has certainly demonstrated an interest in your company. Where else can you find tens or (for some companies) thousands of people who know your company well? So rather than 'Don't let the door hit you in the a-- on the way out,' how about treating these people like an 'alumni network?' Be respectful of them when they leave (after all, you have plenty of employees, they have only one career); help some find their next opportunity if the fit is not right for your company; keep them posted with company updates; tap into their knowledge and ask their views; invite them back for cocktails; where appropriate (think people on a career break), offer them part-time or overflow work; and celebrate their successes."
Maintaining a good relationship with departing employees also creates a sense of loyalty, echoes¬†Malasavanh Thavonesouk, human resources manager at Vancouver, B.C.-based video game developer Radical Entertainment.¬†‚ÄúThey see that the company is investing in them, and have an image of a company that is extremely supportive,‚ÄĚ she told Canada's The Globe and Mail in this report.
‚ÄúWe see our alumni as an extension of the firm,‚ÄĚ said John Langhorne,¬†of¬†Ernst & Young¬†in the same article.¬†‚ÄúThey are all brand ambassadors, in some respects."
He says former employees can be a source for new business and new job candidates, and can sometimes turn into¬†clients and customers themselves.
In 2012¬†over 25% of their manager-and-above hires previously worked at the firm, and studies have shown¬†filling a role with an ex-employee can cut recruitment costs in half.
An unhappy ex-employee can become your worst enemy. It doesn't have to be that way though, even if tough decisions have to be made.¬†So take as much - or even more - care firing¬†than you do when you are hiring, and be¬†deliberate about how you word those departure memos.