Retirement

Business as usual If you ignore personnel issues, your company is at risk

Symbolic picture: boss and employee
Symbolic picture: boss and employeeGetty Images

Bernhard says he was excited when he became CEO of a large medium-sized company. The sporty man in his mid-fifties has shining eyes, you can tell that he loves challenges. Sharpening the strategy, opening up new foreign markets, driving forward digitization – there was a lot to do in the first few months. So much that Bernhard pushed one thing aside completely: the personnel issues. “Deliver first” was his motto. That took revenge.

He was in the job for two years when one day the long-time HR manager resigned. His accusation: Bernhard doesn’t care about his people. He was tired of fighting against it and also defending the boss. That sat.

Bernhard had previously worked exclusively in large corporations. And had underestimated what can happen in a more manageable company if you put personnel questions aside for months and years. His employees had finally fulfilled their part of the deal: They had done their job with commitment – but in return also expected to be properly looked after. What that means? Feedback on performance, clear target agreements, a regular look at the salary curve and personal development.

Little consolation

However, since organizations do not simply stand still, but organize themselves, the disaster took its course – at first quite unnoticed on a small scale. The management team under Bernhard began to answer the constant inquiries from employees with promises for the future: more salary, new title – depending on what was needed to calm the respective employee down. The promises were not kept. Because that was uncomfortable, there were small consolations: here a more generous vacation policy, there a weekday home office. Unfortunately, these appeasements were visible to everyone and led to envy: Why him and not me? It acted like a fire accelerator on the already lousy mood.

The resignation of the HR manager was a wake-up call that Bernhard took very seriously. Today there is a personal meeting for all employees twice a year. Are superiors and subordinates satisfied with each other? What kind of career step or a raise must be made? The results are fixed so that both sides can refer to them in the next conversation.

Bernhard says he was quite impressed by how long it took to bring the organization back into balance. Today he plans all staff appraisals at the beginning of the year. And walks through the company every evening on the way home. He says that it’s not only good for his people, but mostly for himself.


Anne Weitzdörfer As a consultant and coach, she has accompanied companies and executives for many years. Here she writes on topics from the professional world.


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