It had been a good run for Vance, but he decided he just didn’t want to go into Sarah’s department one more time. He was eligible for retirement, had planned his retirement well, and was ready to enjoy the rest of his life. So, when he dropped his papers on her desk, there were no regrets.
This left Sarah in a bit of a spot. One of Vance’s people was out on medical leave, and the others were scheduled for training that could not be moved the first week after he left the company. She asked him if he would postpone his retirement for a few weeks. The answer was no. She asked him if he would come back as a consultant for a few days a week to provide coverage. Why would he, Vance asked, come back with reduced pay and benefits to do the same work he had done as an employee? No, this is when he was retiring that that was it.
You might think Vance was being unreasonably stubborn, but he wasn’t. He had worked for Sarah for approximately 5 years. In those 5 years, he had seen his workload doubled, if not tripled, with Sarah being unmoving on giving his people a break in their work. Sarah had continually demanded more innovation, more programs, and more things that she could report on that ‘she’ had done with the department. It could be honestly said that Sarah based her rise in the ranks on Vance’s team’s work, with the only reward that they received was a continuous demand for more, more, more. He did this without one extra person on the team in all those years, doctor verified high blood pressure, and the stress causing his health did deteriorate. On the times when Vance did try to tell Sarah these things, Sarah would reply, “You’re not overworked. You’re simply not efficient enough. Put some of your work on your people. You need to learn how to delegate better.”
Oh, Vance did get one extra day off about three years ago when his team achieved monumental cost savings for the department, but that was it. So, now it was payback time. Sarah was now in a spot, and it was Vance’s turn to be intransigent, and he was reveling in every moment of it.
Sarah’s reaction to all of this was pure Sarah. Instead of finding ways to cover the gap and wishing Vance well, Sarah decided instead to try to recruit people into an anti-Vance clique. “Doesn’t it make you mad that Vance is leaving you at that time, with all this work to be done?”, she would ask some of his people, trying to make them resentful. To their credit, no one would join Sarah in throwing Vance under the bus. He had treated them as well as he could during his tenure and they would not turn on him simply because he decided to put his own interests first. Sarah was not happy.
How do you treat someone who helped account for your success? Do you look at the whole of their work and thank them for all they have done? Do you put on your pouty face simply because they finally have decided to look after their own best interests, something you have done for your entire tenure at the company? Which is the behavior of a leader? Which is the behavior of a three year old?
There’s a picture of a pouting face at the head of this article. I was going to put in another picture instead, but I didn’t think a picture of ‘big girl panties’ would go over too well.