The birthday party. Remember it? You know, the one you were not invited to. The one you really, really wanted to go to but could not? The one that the others talked about but you couldn't join in because you were not invited? Darn. The talking, the reminiscing, the camaraderie that you could not share in. Even at age 5 it felt pretty lonely and the more they talked, the worse it felt. So, what was worse, not being at the party or the exclusion afterwards?
It unfortunately does not stop at children's birthday parties and continues in adult organizations. One morning in and by the afternoon out. "Economy down, need to focus on core business functions, strategic resources pulled in, down size your department from 3 - 1, reporting structure changing. Oh, did I mention, this is occurring today?" Conversations like this can signal the beginning of the end, if not of an employment relationship, of easy access to the inner circle. I ask again, what is worse, not being at the party or the exclusion afterwards?
Why does there have to be exclusion? Party size limits (my mom says I can only invite 5 kids) or business conditions (downsize, reorganizations and reductions in force) in and of themselves are not exclusionary. Most people, even 5 year olds, can get to one degree or another that life happens. They even accept it. The reactions, responses and behaviors of the people involved are what they don't always get and in many cases, have a difficult time accepting. There are those that are in and want to ensure everyone knows it, there are those that are in and are just as fearful of being sent out that they follow, there are those who are not sure how to react so they are neutral at best, there are those who are respectful and professional and then there are those who just simply don't get it at all.
People's behaviors, truthfulness, and interactions, or lack thereof, are what those "remanded to the outer circle" remember and what defines their perspectives and perceptions of an organization and may even be a key determinant in whether they stay or they go. The inner circle expands and contracts as people come and go, business needs change and the nature of an organization evolves. It is ever present throughout an organization.
What would your exiting team members say about you?
A note of thanks to Natalie Cooper at Personnel Today for cementing this idea for me - it has been bouncing around in my head for over a week now!