Occasionally I receive some flak because of one of decisions I make. Almost always it is one of those decisions which changes status quo.
Let’s take an example: an employee has an offer from a competitor. You care about her so you try to keep her offering different things, e.g. transition to a better project, raise, etc. However you keep your offer rather reasonable. Basically you don’t try to do more than you would if there were no offer from the competitor. Unfortunately eventually the employee leaves.
A question pops up: have you done everything you could to make her stay?
Well, basically no. You could have paid premium or let her be prima donna or whatever but you decided you want to be fair with everyone in the team and not just make her stay at all cost.
Now it’s time to receive criticism. Hey, you could have fight for keeping status quo. Forget everyone else, now she will leave and the whole world will stop. Aargh, we’re doomed!
Um no, not exactly. The sole fact that you can do something doesn’t automatically means you have to, or even should, do it. Making a fair decision, even if it is difficult, usually pays off in the long run. In this case you play fair with the whole team even if it means losing one good employee. On the plus side, you mitigate a risk of frustration among many people in the team. Besides, let’s face it: shit happens, sometimes people leave. Unless you work in damn cool startup, that is.
Anyway, every time you make such decision think about longer perspective and the whole team and not about tomorrow and a single person. It will help you to make the right choice.
Chances are good you won’t be understood in the first place. I can almost guarantee you that you won’t be considered a hero. It is way more likely you’ll be dubbed as the one who doesn’t give a damn, even though that you actually do. After all you changed status quo.
And this is why these decisions are difficult. Otherwise they would be easy and obvious.