BLUF: my quiet, low-communicating direct with personal relationship with her last boss has told my other direct she will leave without telling me in a few months' time. Is there any way to gain her trust to have her tell me, or turn her around?

Wow, this one's tough. Some more details: I'm an outsider to this company, brought in 8 months ago to work with an internal team to find their weak processes and help them be more efficient and effective. Four months ago it was abundantly clear the manager, while working quite hard, was not doing well and unhappy enough to not want to get better. It's possible they were also incapable of getting much better in the role. The team consisted of the manager's sister, and cousin. No kidding. Both were under used and mostly bored because the manager did not delegate much other than "go research this list for me and report back". The team was in bad shape.

Before leaving, the manager coerced the cousin to leave (I have this info from a good source), and was about to do the same to the sister (the smarter of the two) but she actually stayed, which did make me happy. She was switched into a new role that she is completely capable of doing with more responsibility and importance to the team. I've done O3s and coached her into the position and it seemed rocky at first - she's timid and needs a bit more detailed tasks lists than I like to give - but it it much better now.

The relationship with her and the old manager goes up and down, and with that, her thoughts of leaving do, too. I know much of the former from the O3s but I only know the latter from my other direct, a newbie to the team who bonded with her and has shared things with me that were thought to be useful. Of course, that's called insider info or gossip, and I thought I was able to be even more supportive of her role and her importance as a result. She received a good raise from me (after NONE, ever, from her sister), and I thought we were completely solid. Her O3s indicate nothing about her mental state - everything is fine.

The she patched things up with her sister and now I hear from the other direct that she has definitely absolutely said she is leaving, and will do so without notice, in a few months. I believe this to be reliable information though one can never be absolutely certain.

I'm torn between being pissed and panicked and disappointed - I really thought I'd gained her trust. I want her to stay but without groveling or counter-offering or any of that. I want her to just simply stay and do the good work she's been doing and been being praised for.

Any words of wisdom? Or is this boat already hitting the iceberg?

delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture

You are doing O3s and building your relationship.  This cannot be rushed, however, no need to be naive about the elephant in the room.  Do you ask the monthly retention question to your directs - how's it going overall.  This opens the door for broader conversations.  Many rumours abound in the office and I choose not to honour them but I do try to have open O3s so that any concerns are discussed.  Do you use feedback so instead of praise you give postive feedback on behavour and negative feedback as needed.  Whenever I'm in doubt I revert to the basics and this focuses me on the work product, delivering results and not distracted by what ifs.

Good luck!


misstenacity's picture

Thanks for the reply. Yes I am mostly focused on positive feedback and I do ask both of them regularly how the big-picture things are going relative to them and their jobs. 

So... this is just going to play out how it does. I don't know that I feel comfortable approaching them with it directly (saying that I heard it from a reliable source), since they'll know immediately from where it came.

NLewis's picture

You can't control the decisions other people make or how they handle themselves.  Your conduct, attitude, and choices are all you have.  It sounds like you're determined to be professional and you're doing all the right things.  Stay the course - you're a manager, and a good one from the sound of it.  That means you're going to be able to handle whatever comes next.  If they stay or if they go stay focused on what your responsibilities are and you'll be fine.  

Personally I'd rather have someone working for me who wants to be there anyway.

falkb's picture

To expand on what dtiller and NLewis wrote: There are things that you can influence here - your behavior, team setup, salary etc. - and things outside your circle of influence, such as what is going on between your direct and her sister. From your description, the reasons for your direct's change of mind are coming from the latter, not the former. You seem to be doing the best that can be done in your circle of influence, and you have to remind yourself that this has to be enough, and not to worry too much about changes that are outside your control.

To be completely honest, though, I have to admit that I find this advice easier to give than to follow myself...

misstenacity's picture

Thanks, everyone. I have no new news on the DR's departure whether real or imagined. I agree that I want people to work for me who want to be here, without much nudging. This is literally a team of 2, and this is the senior direct who has a very important role in the data management, so losing her would temporarily cripple me. 

The other DR is my bad-interview-assessment hire and is not working out, so that is another huge problem that has me awake nights. That means I'm thinking about losing essentially my whole team unless I hire and fast. :-(