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  • Kristin Wagler

Last exit: Offboarding

Serious faces and more questions than answers. Here we were, discussing what we had never even thought of before: We were going to ask one of the Tektitans to leave the team. How on earth had we ended up here?

Tektit’s company culture as well as all our consulting services are based on the same foundation: The Tektit value system, which is reflected in the mode we operate and the way we communicate.

Based on our framework of values, principles and actual outputs, the team members write short stories from their daily business that help us reflect on what we have learned. We want to share these value stories to a bigger audience now. They might inspire others to think about their own values and how they want to work. Join us on our journey and tell us which values come to your mind while reading the story - let us know in the comments.

Value story (V): Grow from your mistakes

Our working student had joined the company more than a year ago, even before some of the people participating in this discussion right now had become members of the team. While completing her Master studies, she was supporting us with Social Media matters, with Marketing and Design tasks. She had been given all the freedom and with that also all the responsibilities all Tektitans have. We considered her a member of the gang, a matching piece of the puzzle.

Sure, there had been a few hiccups on the way. Since she was rather junior in a professional context, we had to adapt our expectations at times. The company was growing and in the hustle and bustle of a developing organization all of us simply had trusted that she would surely be on track or currently be guided by someone else - a blind spot we would later find out the hard way.

We failed to realize she would have needed more guidance and support. She on the other hand did not communicate that anything was off to the team or maybe not even acknowledge it herself. Unaware of what was building up beyond the surface and with her final degree exams on the horizon, we had decided to offer her a permanent position and she had happily signed the contract, which was about to start in just a few weeks.

Yet here we were in our sad little Zoom call. A group of four Tektitans, admitting to each other that we were unhappy with the quality of our colleague's work. We were disappointed by how she seemed unable to stick to her commitments and somewhat surprised by the low level of pro-activity we perceived. The timing was bad but all of us by now had second thoughts on whether offering a full-time position to her had been a good idea.

We were pondering which support she might need to thrive and to add more value to our company, which we had all worked so hard for in the past months and years. We got feedback from the other Tektitans, we discussed second chances versus immediate actions, we weighed the pros and cons of letting her go, debated our responsibilities as colleagues and as an employing company, and tried to consider all the consequences losing a job confronts a young professional with. Not once, not twice, but multiple times did we get together and our decision process seemed to move on step forward, two steps back. Eventually, the tough decision was made: We would let her go.

Fast forward a few weeks: Once the door had closed behind our former colleague, parting ways with one of the Tektitans weighed heavily on all of us. Had we taken the right steps? Had our expectations been fair? Had we stuck to our vision and done enough to create a work environment which could make her happy and fulfilled?

Truth be told, there still isn't a finite answers to all of these questions. Yet there was beauty in how we had come to this difficult decision: As a group, we had experienced how each of us even in the more challenging debates had spoken honestly and with utmost respect for our working student. None of us had blamed or shamed or finger pointed, all of us had demonstrated professionalism and appreciation for how our junior and all of us had tried their best at the time to make this work.

Our decision had been delivered to our working student with the same honesty we later kept up when reflecting on what had happened and what we could learn from this. We realized that neither did we have a plan, nor had we been able to on the fly create an environment which dedicated enough time, support and guidance to someone with little professional experience. We had failed and we were determined to learn from it.

In a team retrospective we took a long and close second look at what had happened. We reflected out thinking and behavior and also decided to create a setting with way more guidance for juniors. Coming up with a development program and a mentorship system were going to be our first steps and for the next junior Tektitan we would be prepared better.

At this point maybe you are wondering, how our working student would tell the story? A short while after she had left the company our former colleague visited us. Meanwhile, she had been able to process and reflect. She seemed calm and centered. Even if she was still sad to not be a member of the team any longer, she had realized that she, too, had sensed already the Tektit environment probably wasn’t a good fit at this point in time. A few weeks later she found a new position with mentors for exactly the areas she was interested in and tasks she was happier with.

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