Part four of four: What happened?
(Note: I’ve made changes in the following, to keep identities private.)
“We are rescinding our offer.”
Ariel was crushed. This was the biggest “fuck you” an applicant can get.
It felt like a physical blow. Insulting to the core. Completely unnecessary. Mean. Unfeeling. And crushing.
At first she couldn’t believe it. Thought she’d read the text wrong.
She instantly texted Dirk – the global creative director she’d been on the phone with just moments before accepting their offer. He was her “C suite” contact and had been active in her recruitment. She messaged him, hoping maybe he didn’t know, that perhaps he could rescind the recision. But he didn’t reply.
On our follow-up Zoom, Ariel wondered if this kind of behavior was why they were losing clients and talent. Maybe she’d been saved from joining an awful place. Maybe. But that was little comfort from being slapped in the face after a month of praise and aggressive recruiting.
Our recap was painful.
“Ted, what actually happened? My push-back on salary was small. I only asked for the time to talk again with Dirk before deciding. Did I ask for too much? Was it just about money?”
“We may never know. Maybe the new CEO had someone else she wanted in the role. Maybe your friend Mia was jealous and torpedoed you from the inside. Maybe the holding company really does set iron-clad salary limits, and no one at the agency wants to admit they don’t have the power to push back. We may never know.”
“I must be in shock. I feel numb.”
“Of course you are. It’s one hell of a shock. They just pulled a gun and shot you. Rescinding the offer was spirit-trampling; it lacks humanity.”
All of us can be cruel. Our ability to be evil is the shadow side of our fundamental humanity. And mostly, we try to keep it in the shadows. But when we’re under stress, we can revert to cruel behavior. That’s true for organizations too, because they’re made up of individual people making decisions from their own particular situations. The tremendous pressure companies put on people to produce ever-growing profits, and the stress that in turn produces, can result in cruelty.
Ariel asked, “Where do I go from here?”
“Search for and find an organization that really respects your talents and skills. A place where you can be paid for the genuine value you bring. A place that will collaborate with you for both your benefit and theirs. A place that supports, restores and builds.”
Years ago, I discovered the simple management formula that guides my consulting today: Doing great work makes people happy, and the pleasure people get from doing the work produces profit as a result. Profits don’t come first – profits come from empowered creatives who love what they’re doing.
So maybe Ariel dodged a bullet; maybe she missed an opportunity. But we know for sure that she needs to be in a place where she’ll thrive. Where her contribution is needed and rewarded. And where she can work side by side with people she appreciates and supports.
Painful experiences like this can be valuable, if you can persevere through them.
“Ariel, you’re a survivor. You went through the emotional wringer, from high hopes to utter despair. You felt the full range. Those feelings will keep this memory alive for years to come – maybe your whole life. Really knowing what it feels like to go through a harrowing experience, and surviving it, prepares you for the inevitable struggles you’ll face in the future.
“You were crushed. You survived. Take a few days to recover. Then begin to plan your next steps using the insights you gained from this to help you.”