There's a question everyone always ask themselves--when they are gone from an organization will they be missed?
We all tell ourselves that we are irreplaceable--when we leave everything will fall apart, that "then they will be sorry," and maybe they will finally appreciate us.
But when calmer heads prevail, we sort of know the truth that we are all indeed replaceable--there are others just waiting in the wings to swoop in for a chance to do our job and perhaps better than we ourselves did it.
But won't we be missed? They'll be a party, cards, well wishes, maybe even gifts, and people will say how much they will miss us, but then when we are gone--24, 48, 72 hours later--does anyone really care?
If we left things in disarray and without a succession plan--we kept it all in our head waiting for the day to show them all--then there will be a period that may not be so pretty for the others taking on the responsibilities we are leaving behind.
However, someone who would do that to the organization and their fellow employees, you may ask what good were they really anyway?
For the most part, when people leave, I think there is a transition period for people to adjust to change--this is normal, and then after that people go on thinking about life afterwards.
- What new opportunities are there for them? In a crude way, some may even think that there is now one less person for them to have to climb over to advance. With someone leaving, one can say even that their power flows back and is dispersed to the others in the organization to "pick up the baton," influence and lead.
- Some may realize that the problems the person brought to the organization (and everyone brings a mixed bag--both good and bad), have now left with them. Were they entrenched in the current ways of doing things and naysayers to any sort of change? Did they have an ego and a sense of entitlement after serving for years? Had they become stale and fallen behind the times in terms of best practices, new technologies, and so on?
- Others can look forward to new people and "fresh blood" coming in--reinvigorating the organization, bringing in new perspectives, fresh ideas, or as they say, "mix it up a little," shake the limbs, ask questions of the status quo--of course, you never really know about a new person, until the marriage equivalent of "you wake up with them in the morning"--you see how they actually perform on the job, in the culture, with the people.
Sure, there are some special people that are practically irreplaceable, because they are such visionaries, innovators, and leaders of people--that they are truly one in ten million. Steve Jobs is one of those that come to mind. These are the exceptions, not the rule.
For most people, we give to the organization and provide value--some people thrive for years or decades. It is individualistic and depends on many factors but especially the person to job fit and the person to organization fit. Factors that are in some ways quantifiable based on knowledge, skills, and abilities, but also depends on personality, culture, style, adaptability, motives, and many more things.
When a person is a good or great fit--there is almost nothing better for them and the organization then a long and productive marriage of the two!
But when the fit is bad--then it is bad for the person and the organization--there can be poor productivity, negative interrelationships, and bitter feelings.
Depending on the situation and fit...Often we wished people stayed longer and could keep giving their gift. Sometimes people know when the tea leaves are telling them to move on and the fit is no longer right. And still other times, some people overstay their visit and thereby do more harm then good.
How will people see you when it your time to leave? You want to be missed for all the right reasons. ;-)
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Bernt Rostad)