I wonder why some of us can’t “just walk away” from organisations that we have already quit! If you are the types who likes to keep in touch with former colleagues on a regular basis, then this is for you…
It’s not uncommon to get calls from past colleagues who tell me how much they miss me and how the place I have left doesn’t have the same charm as before. Yes, it helps boost my ego, and occasionally even a sadistic sense of pleasure. Sometimes I get frantic calls about a surprise new hire, another resignation, or news about my old decisions being reversed.
Yes, I can ignore these calls and leave them to their fate. But I feel I owe them to act as a sounding board. Moreover, I feel entitled as a past leader to keep a connection with them, so I keep feeding them my opinions, not knowing the context fully.
Not everybody keeps a tab on what’s happening in their former company. I believe the people who keep back channels open with organisations are most likely to be founders, who even after leaving may not have found a new life. Or employees who have served long tenures at a place, and people who worked in leadership roles.
A little gossip among the alumni does no harm as often that’s the only common bond to keep the connection going. The problem really starts when former leaders do it in public. The consequences can be quite disastrous if the company is a reputed brand and worse if it is listed.
Every opinion of ours – whether it is objective or otherwise – can have a huge impact on stock prices, customer perceptions and employee morale! In the world of social media and news hungry active media ‘murmurs’ which used to be harmless in the past can become big distractions to boards.
It is intriguing how we can’t get away from things we created. We can attribute this to human nature which makes us nostalgic about our upbringing, schooling, college, friends, family not to mention old workplaces. In a long career, our affinity to certain employers are so strong that we just can’t get away but think, talk about and criticize them long after quitting. Why ?
I think some of us just can’t let things go. It takes a unique ability to create a great organisation and even greater ability to allow it to blossom under somebody else. Any company which must grow and sustain for a long period of time has to undergo the pain of changes. If the new leadership is not allowed to make any radical changes, then it would be wise to have our own loyalists run the company or bring our own kith and kin to those roles. That way founders can be open about their real intentions and nobody would blame them. We are used to dynasty rules in this country anyhow 🙂
But it’s difficult to walk away from what you have created. Some people call it their baby and hold on to it never allowing it to grow. Few others may say their past contribution is big enough to give them the right to criticize current happenings in the company. Ex-Leaders/alumni can inflict substantial damage to their former organisations by indulging in small talk with their ex-reportees regularly. Yes’ your sycophant loyalists would like to criticize what’s happening at your former employer, But are you so naïve not to realise that your loyalists are telling you what you want to hear, I would go further and say you would be actually harming your ex-reportees careers by distracting them with your negative vibes. If you are the types who keeps criticizing about what’s happening at those firms you are only causing their exit eventually. If that’s your intention, go ahead!
I am sure there are right channels/platforms for everyone to air their disappointments, but when you wash this linen in public you are possibly not doing it with best intentions. If it’s the company that you fondly built, a place where you still have equity would you want it to get tarnished by your public criticisms?
Whenever I read or hear such happenings I feel the past leaderships haven’t found enough maturity to deal with the changes happening in the organisations they have moved on from. It appears that they lack trust in the very people whom they hired or allowed to succeed, they can’t let pass mistakes if any, and maybe only interested in status quo. Or, they simply don’t have the patience to wait for a long period of time for sustained success.
Sometimes I don’t respond to messages which keeps coming from former colleagues, I think many do send their updates out of respect and the relationship we have had, But I feel it’s rather ok to be non-responsive and ‘walk away’ than being connected and cause distraction to their current cause.
I have to admit that that the famous ad “keep walking” is difficult to emulate in real life
In my new journey I hope to keep the noise away from the past.