Dealing with mass resignations is counterintuitive-so beware (updated)

Whether or not there is a long-term trend to “mass resignation” has yet to be clearly established, simply because the world is still in the throes of Covid.

What is clear however, is that the initial response to undeniable increased resignations is very misled. Recently, I have read posts and articles peddling the same “retention strategies” of the past, but simply now with a double dose and some added steroids like “do it now or die”. The most annoying thing that keeps being regurgitated is that people leave bad bosses, not bad organizations. Yes-people die in bed, but beds are not necessarily dangerous places. At present, it is fair to say that people are leaving good and bad bosses, as well as good and shitty organizations.

I want to briefly share how I view increased resignations as well as  what I propose in order to deal with increased resignations.

1) Increased resignations are a societal trend, so even if you do everything right, you will face increased resignations. Yes! Even if your managers are superb and you pay well.

2) Look at your organization’s vulnerability to resignations.

  • Do you have champions upon who you are highly dependant?
  • Is there a lot of oral history that one needs to learn to be effective?
  • Are there jobs structured so that it takes years to master them?
  • Are too many key relationships held by too few people?

Once you have mapped out vulnerability, focus, focus, focus. Do NOT apply an across the board simplistic solutions.

3) Here are a few avenues of pursuit which lessen the blow of increased resignations at your vulnerable points.

  • No more lean and mean-hire reserves and/back ups.
  • Outsource functions which take too  long time a time to learn to reputable firms. So called “core competencies” need to be re-examined.
  • Appoint second drivers for key functions-perhaps even third drivers.
  • Any job which takes more than 6 months to learn should be restructured if possible so as to mitigate the damage from churn to enable a rapid recovery time. This may be extremely difficult yet absolutely necessary.
  • Abolish total ownership of key relationships. Smith owns the relationship with GE? Not any more. No more full exposure Smith’s loyalty to the firm. Because whatever you do, long term loyalty is either dead or in a coma-and you cannot change that. It is a societal trend.


This post was written at the end of last year. In the mean time, I have augered more experience in dealing with so-called mass resignations.

  1. It’s real, but it is not so mass.
  2. In many professions, it is caused by a shortage of manpower which enables employees to jump ship and get 40% higher wage. Isn’t it better just to pay attractive salaries, for heaven sake?
  3. Effective approaches are not necessarily strategic, but more targeted on roles with harder to find skills.
  4. Turnover has a positive effect. Fear not. Outsourcing is not the end of the world, even for key competencies.












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Some of Dad’s friends

My Dad had a really interested array of friends.  Some were close, some golfing buddies, some neighbours, and one very special friend from the RCAF, who served with him in Iceland on bombing raids at sea.

Uncle Billy was the special friend. After the war, he lived in Vancouver; Billy  came to visit his mom and my Dad  in Montreal once or twice a year. Dad always told me that “Uncle Billy is too smart to get married”. On another occasion, he told me that Uncle Billy lives “the life of Riley”; he assumed, correctly, that I knew what he meant. Billy called my Dad “Moose” because Dad was tall and had a large frame. When Uncle Billy came over, he and Dad would sit at the dining room table, smoking a lot, laughing even more, and drinking albeit never too much. Uncle Billy would always ask my Dad “what type of fertiliser are you feeding him, Phil, for Christ sake? He’ll become a big Moose like you!” Uncle Billy Cohen died of cancer. And I am even taller than was Dad.

At the golf club, the locker next to my Dad’s was occupied by a guy called Puggy. My Dad always referred to Puggy as “poor old Puggy”. The reasons changed but the nickname didn’t. Puggy was an ex-boxer-hence the name. My Dad claimed that getting hit is “no fucking way to make a living”. Puggy lost many a golf game to my Dad. Poor old Puggy. Then, Puggy died, departing the world with the same nickname. Dad and Puggy were not good friends, but they always greeted one another cordially when they met at the locker-“how the fuck are you, Phil?”

Dad worked with a guy named Martin. Martin weighed about 400 pounds and always had a bag of muffins with him, or even, believe it or not, a squished muffin in his pocket. His worst sin was making long distance phone calls from my Dad’s desk to his ex-wives. Dad would scowl at him and Martin would offer Dad a muffin. Dad was a straight-in-your face guy-he would tell Martin that “I don’t eat muffins, nor should you, adding his “for Christ’s sake, what’s wrong with you Martin.”

Mildred did a lot of business with my Dad. While she had a Jewish last name, she was a Roman Catholic. Every year, Mildred would invite my Dad to bring me and my siblings to her home on Queen Mary Road (av de Reine Marie) to celebrate Christmas. We always got a lovely gift. Mildred and Dad would laugh a whole lot and smoke as well as cough. Mildred had a really mean cough. Upon arriving home, Dad would insist that I write a thank you note and mail it “now”. “Address her as Auntie Mildred”.

On the way home, Dad would always explain that ones’ last name does not indicate religion. “We have a Henderson in our synagogue and Weiss (Mildred’s name) is as Jewish as they come”, another one of Dad’s expressions.  Funny about this Henderson guy, by the way. Dad rarely went to synagogue.

We shared back yards with Uncle Sonny, the two back yards separated by shrubs. He was a butcher and a skier. A man of few words with a beautiful wife (Auntie Rozie) and a winter home in St-Jerome, where we would often spend weekends. It’s funny that Uncle Sonny never talked too much, but I still think of him, and all of my Dad’s friends, more and more.

Dad and his friends lived in the world so well documented by Mordechai Richler. Dad and his cronies, Leonard Cohen and William Shatner are, for me, real characters. I miss them all. Yet at age 16, my life changed and I would never be one of them.

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When a good company is acquired by a lesser company-what is the focus of OD?

This is a highly specialized article about doing a post merger OD intervention in a situation whereby a less successful  company with fewer competencies acquires a more successful and competent company and/or when a large, rigid behemoth acquires an innovative company, as illustrated by consultant Terry Seamon in his comments to this post.

First of all, let’s talk about what not to do:

  • don’t focus on creating one culture or merging the two, which cannot be done in any case.
  • don’t initially focus on the interfaces.
  • don’t work on cultural differences.

The initial focus should be on:

  • structure that accommodates as much autonomy as possible for the short term as well as minimizing interfaces where the gaps in competency are overwhelming.
  • short-term decision making forums based on parity, i.e. an equal number of decision makers from both sides, if at all possible. It’s not perfect but it’s probably the best that can be done.
  • preservation of competencies in the acquired company. 
  • reputation management with the client base with special attention to account managers
  • as much relocation as possible for as long as possible; this can be used to mitigate impact of less successful layers and augment the impact of more competent if done properly
  • creation of a House of Lords in order to relocate members of the acquiring company who need to be moved aside elegantly

For a cookbook on how to choke an innovative company to death, here is a link.





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