“You didn’t notice – so I left: An Open Letter to Leaders during the Great Resignation

I hear that you don’t understand why so many are leaving their jobs. You also can’t understand where we went or how we are making a living. Like many of your management friends, you are dumbfounded by what has happened.

Do you mind if I tell you?

If I take the time to tell you, will you listen?

Ok, as you request, I’ll try to make it brief, as brief as possible.

You know, that was the first problem: you never took the time to listen.

You wonder why I left and why others like me resigned. Please be patient. I know you really don’t want to hear what I have to say, and you want me to give a brief comment, but it’s time you heard the complete, unvarnished truth.

Please take the time to listen to the complete message.

It started when you were too busy or too distracted to see me with any distinction. Yes, you hired me to perform a specific job description. I get that. But then you treated me as if I could be easily replaced. No, you didn’t treat me any different than anyone else. You treated everyone like that.

Guess what? We noticed. We noticed when others were overlooked and dismissed. We noticed the favoritism in promotions and pay raises. We noticed who was accepted and who was left out. We especially noticed who was terminated and why. We didn’t just listen to your explanations; we watched your actions. In the end, we noticed that we didn’t matter. Oh, we noticed the platitudes, but we noticed how empty those words really were. The only thing you wanted from us was to perform that mundane task well.

Well, now you are noticing how difficult we are to replace. The funny part is that you wonder why we don’t care.

You see, we continued to notice that we had potential that you easily overlooked. For some, it was because they were of the wrong sex, age, background, or the “wrong” attitude, belief, or set of values. You let that cloud your perception of what we could do or how we could be of value to the organization.

Maybe you didn’t notice because we didn’t fit your narrow vision.

Let’s face it, you missed a huge opportunity. You were blinded from seeing me and everyone like me as having any unique value beyond performing the mundane tasks. It was as if all of us were programable robots performing on demand. You didn’t see our potential. You didn’t see us as individuals with hopes and dreams, problems and painful losses. You didn’t see any of us as we could be in ten years. You also couldn’t, or maybe purposefully didn’t see us as anything beyond our current jobs.

Within all that, I’m not sure you even see us as valuable people. Oh, I understand. You don’t have time to care about each of us individually. You don’t believe that is part of business or part of your job. But is it too much to ask to learn our names and understand who we are as individuals?

We get it, you are busy. But what does the word “team” really mean to you? If we are on the team, we should be seen as more valuable and then be more involved at some point. The team is about collaboration so we can compete as an organization. It shouldn’t be about internal competition for prestige and pay. The team should be about collaborating, not simple obedience.

Are you still with me? I know, you don’t want to hear this but isn’t it time you finally paid attention to the real problem?

I understand as managers and executives, you do have more to think about than me. Yes, you have high-level strategy meetings. I get that. But isn’t that where engagement begins? Isn’t it a leader’s job to work with their small team? Is it really all about spreadsheets and meetings? It seems to me; the problem is your priorities.  

You only had time for yourself.  

I’m almost done. Please stay with me.  

Your self-centeredness sucked the soul out of me. When I was in your organization, I wasn’t energized to do more. You blame employees like me for not being completely engaged. You blame us for higher expenses and decreased profits. To some degree, you might be right. But why do you think we aren’t engaged? Why aren’t we selling our souls to the organization?

Could it be that you don’t really care?

Could it be that you believe you are more elite than the rest of us?

Could it be that you want that separation in prestige and pay to prolong the perception that you are better than me?

Or could it be that we shouldn’t be selling our souls at all?

What gives an organization the right to rule someone’s life?

After all, isn’t that the only thing we really have in this world?

I know you don’t want to admit that.

But when you don’t include me in the celebrations, when you give me the scraps while you and your managers enjoy the feast of profitmaking, I feel left out. I’m not asking for an equal share, but when you say we are a team, shouldn’t I feel like a partner instead of a slave?

Is that too harsh?

Please, hear me out. This is important.

Did you notice my pain? No.

Even if you did notice, did you say or do anything to help me alleviate that pain? No.

Instead, you complained about how you are stressed and swamped. You always have another meeting to attend or more pressing matters. In the end, my pain didn’t matter to you.

Please don’t assume you know who I am.

I’m not just another “Gen Z spoiled brat.” Instead, understand that I am the voice of budding entrepreneurs, willing to work harder and faster than you ever imagined. I’m also a middle-aged worker who has slowly been ground down. I’m also the person who just retired, now free to live their lives. You see, I don’t look like anyone person. I’m both male and female, young and older, educated and not. Surprisingly enough, I’m also a manager and a front-line worker. I represent the spirit of those frustrated workers active in the Great Resignation.

One last thing.

You don’t want to notice or admit it, but the Great Resignation is not an employee problem. It is a leadership problem. It’s not the players on this team but the coach. The leader doesn’t know how to lead. He or she hasn’t learned how to pivot and work in the modern age.

How can I say that?

It’s really quite simple.

A coach isn’t a coach without players and a leader isn’t a leader without a team (or what you would call followers.)

When your team leaves, it is your job as a leader to pivot to engage them (or what’s left of your team.)

When they won’t even work for you when you are paying top dollar, you have a problem.

Don’t blame it on them.

Instead, take time to notice, listen, and understand their perspective.

Take the initiative and engage them.

Celebrate them!

Help them to feel 100% Alive.

Don’t wait for them to engage you.

Don’t settle for the mundane.

Success starts by noticing, listening, and understanding to who your team members are and the unique value they offer.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Maya Angelou




Loren Murfield, Ph.D.

One of the people who resigned from soul-sucking organizations.

Today I am an Executive Coach – Author – Speaker – Filmmaker – Difference Maker developing aspiring and emerging leaders in their pivot to their breakthrough success.  Contact me today to begin your pivot.

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One way to pivot your pain is to show compassion by coming alongside another to help alleviate their pain. Check out 2 books. Pivotal Compassion helps those going through traumatic pain. Pivotal Engagement for leaders to help alleviate the pain within their team.

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