Story: Yesterday an announcement went out to all of ATB Financial, the company I love so much, that I’m retiring effective Aug. 1. Fittingly for me, it is one of the final company-wide announcements from our retiring and beloved CEO, Dave Mowat. And the person who crafted the document was my hugely admired colleague, Peggy Garritty, Chief of Reputation and Brand, who is also retiring. With the support of 5,000 plus teammates, and a superb leadership cohort, we three were given the privilege of helping to create one of the finest work cultures anywhere. It’s been a wonderful ride. And in the best way, the company has been my laboratory. The experiments and learnings have been widely shared through this blog. I have extraordinary respect for the company, and thank ATB for allowing me to write and share freely with readers across the globe. Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey. The accomplishments and extraordinary results over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.
Key Point: At my first meeting with the human resource committee of the Board, I shared a fictitious story of what team members would be saying, doing, and feeling about the company some five years in the future. (On Aug. 1, I will have been at ATB for six years and five months). One Board committee member did not realize that the story was aspirational; essentially my vision for the state of work and culture ahead. At that time in 2012, we had just come off of a gut wrenching enterprise software implementation, suffered a 10 point drop in our employee engagement score, had demoralized leaders, disappointing financials, poor customer scores, and higher than expected team turnover. I was also given the mandate to reduce our service units’ headcount by more than 200 people without a reputation hit. So, it is understandable why the Board member looked at me, the newbie Chief People Officer, and blurted out: “What the hell is this? I don’t know what you’re describing here, but it sure isn’t us.” Thank goodness other committee members came to my defense, explaining that while perhaps incredulous, it was intended to outline a desired future state. And for the many who have read this story over the years, it is remarkable how much our team members have made this dream very much a reality. Thousands came together to create one heck of a culture; perhaps even a legendary one.
Personal Leadership Moves:
- Always write out a narrative of what you hope to achieve. Do not write it out simply as a set of objectives. Tell a story. Ideally, it is a few hundred words filled with aspirational description. You can feel, hear, see, and almost taste the future. People who read it should emotionally connect with it. They may be somewhat doubtful. Yet, they dig the idea and the possibility of it becoming true. This is part of thinking BIG, as I’ve touched on this site many times.
- Write and describe your last day on your first day. I shared an email with our CEO, outlining what I hoped people would feel about me on my last day, BEFORE I showed up for work my first day. I have been imperfect, and made mistakes along the way. The ultimate judge of my contribution will be the people of ATB. However, one outcome that is totally my own: My personal lessons learned.
Personal learning from leaving,
One Millennial View: I have certainly never heard of a Millennial even dreaming of writing out their last day before starting their first. This is a wise move, and a lesson we’re lucky to be inspired by. I can’t wait to see what else we’ll learn throughout the reflective month of July. I have a feeling none of us are going to retire our blog subscriptions before (or after) Aug. 1.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis