DEAR J.T. & DALE: My company has a lot of turnover. This week, another guy up and quit with no notice. Now his job is my job. This is the third time it’s happened. I asked for some incentive, and they offered me a small raise. I took it, but I honestly feel underpaid. Is there something I can do? – Landon
Dale: Let’s step back and consider the notion of turnover. When I undertook a search for the best bosses in America for my book “The Gifted Boss,” I was surprised to find that a lot of terrific leaders have high turnover. This happens because they tend to hire exceptional performers, the kind who get hired away, and because they are generous in helping ambitious employees move on to better positions. My point is that high turnover is not always a sign of bad management.
J.T.: However, there is one little phrase that is a giveaway, in this case: “quit with no notice.”
Dale: I agree. The level of mutual respect between a high-performing employee and a terrific manager is much too high for leaving without notice. Meanwhile, Landon, there is only one reason to stay at a lousy company: for the income and/or experience as you work to move to a better company.
J.T.: So, here’s an interim plan: For starters, figure out what you should be making. With online research and networking, you should be able to figure out what would be the appropriate salary for your position and responsibilities. Then, set up a meeting with your boss and say that while others are leaving, you want to grow your career with the company. Then share your financial goal and ask what it would take to get there. Together, you can map out a plan to add value to the company as you reach your income goal. The key to making it happen is to set a timetable – say, six months. Your manager may push back and say that’s not possible, but you will have started a dialogue about timing. Holding both sides accountable is what will get you what you want.
Dear J.T. & Dale: About a month ago, I got into a situation. The big boss witnessed a minor incident, and instead of bringing it to my attention and correcting it, gave me a verbal warning through my supervisor. Now I have been told to attend a meeting with my supervisor and the big boss. I’ve been with the organization for a dozen years, and I am well known for my service to the customers. I’m anxious about this meeting. I want to be professional in my response, even if I’m being let go. – Mina
J.T.: Clearly, the boss saw something that upset her and wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I won’t lie: If the situation was severe enough in her eyes, the meeting might be called in order to let you go. You should be prepared.
Dale: That outcome seems unlikely, to me. The executive obviously is someone who believes in the chain of command, which explains why she went to your supervisor instead of dealing with the incident directly. If she wanted you fired, she’d have the supervisor fire you. Instead, I suspect she sees this as either a “teachable moment,” or else she wants to hear from you that it will never happen again. So you are wise to prepare – not prepare excuses or explanations, but to offer a simple apology. The perfect resource is “The One Minute Apology,” co-authored by Ken Blanchard and a friend and colleague of mine, Margret McBride.
J.T.: Additionally, I would prepare as if you were going in for a performance review. Make a list of all your accomplishments, especially any you can quantify. Also include feedback on your performance. The more data that shows you’re productive and viable, the better. Then, at the meeting, after the big boss explains her concern, be accountable. Apologize and discuss how you’ll make sure it won’t happen again. Then use the data you compiled to stress to her that you are a valuable member of the team.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com. Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.