“Shields down” is BS

I’ve learned a lot from the writing of Rands. But I couldn’t disagree more with his Shields Down post.

The post argues that resignations really happen not when people decide to leave, but when they become open to hearing about other opportunities. And it’s often subconscious. An employee’s resistance to considering other options is their “shield”. When their shield goes down, you’ve lost them.

Rands says that a good manager should always be strengthening shields.

Every moment as a leader is an opportunity to either strengthen or weaken shields. Every single moment.

I think that post is garbage. I want people to always be open to the possibility of leaving. I want them to accept interview requests, to see what else is out there, to understand their market worth, and to constantly consider whether they want to stay.

If people’s shields are up, they aren’t asking themselves the hard questions. They aren’t thinking “I could leave if I wanted, so what do I need in order to keep working here?” And because they haven’t thought about that, it’s harder for managers to fulfill them.

I don’t want people to stay because they refuse to hear about other options. That’s not loyalty. That’s the career equivalent of plugging your ears and singing lalalalala.

I want them to stay in spite of considering those options. I want their shields to stay down. I want them to know what leaving would give them, and to stay anyway.

(And I want my team to feel comfortable talking to me about those options, but that’s a different post.)

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