One foot out the door


If you know me or have read my blog for any period of time, you know that I am a glass half-full kind of person. Recently, I’ve also been pondering about another way that we sometimes view our employees- are they one foot in, or one foot out?

It was an episode of Tabatha Takes Over that brought this out. (If you have never seen the show because you don’t have an interest in the ups and downs of the hair salon world, I understand.) However, Tabatha usually has some pretty good “tough love” lessons for ineffective managers. Worth checking out!)

Back to our story…. In this episode, an employee admitted that she was on the verge of quitting the salon because of how he was treated by her manager.  She said she already had “one foot out the door” and that it was only a matter of time before she left. (For an example of how her manager, Brian, treated her, click here). That got me thinking about how we view our employees, and how that might impact how we treat them.

If we think they are on their way out anyway, will we provide the guidance, feedback, care and compassion that we would if we felt someone was going to be with us for the long haul?

In my experience, the answer is no. Worse, is that we could likely treat them in a way that pushes them out the door faster – which is exactly what the ineffective manager did on this episode.

The big question for us is: in our environment of short employment seasons and high turnover, how many of us feel like many of our employees have one foot out the door?  And if we feel that way, are we treating them in a way that would push them out faster – even without knowing it?

Here are a few thoughts that might help us get out this pattern:

  • Don’t assume they are unhappy – employees sometimes have trouble expressing what they are truly upset about to their bosses (especially if it’s their boss that they are upset about!). If they are complaining (just like a guest) they are looking for you to fix something so they can feel good about working for you.
  • Don’t assume they are happy – employees can sometimes have a hard time expressing gratitude to their bosses. Take the time to talk to your employees individually to find out what’s really going on.
  • Just don’t assume!  Refrain from assuming someone is already one foot out the door. The real problem with assumptions is not that they are usually wrong, it’s that when we believe them they typically lead to the wrong behavior.

About the author: Matt Heller has never met a bag, box or bowl of Peanut M&M’s that he didn’t like.

2 thoughts on “One foot out the door

  1. Hi Matt. Great post. i haven’t seen the show but I’m sure there are some interesting personalities in the hair salon. I hope that the people working for me will stay with me for a long time. I explain to them though that my job is to help them to be better at whatever it is they do. I hope that whether they stay or go, they’ll look back some day and be glad that I cared enough to try to help. I want them to be successful people in work and in life even if they move on to another organization. I guess I’m all in, until they’re out.

    • Frank, you bring up some good points. First, you as a leader being “all in” until your employee shows you that it’s time to go. Your comment got me thinking about those employees who maybe SHOULD be on their way out, either low performers unwilling to try or those who don’t fit the culture. Secondly, having the courage to know that your employees may not stay with you forever, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to develop them when they are there. Thanks!

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