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Organizational Turnover Paranoia: What Would David Ogilvy Do?

I'm plowing through a book from Advertising giant David Ogilvy called Confessions of an Advertising Man.  Ogilvy was considered the "father of advertising" and a creative genius by many of the biggest global brands. First published in 1963, this book revolutionized the world of advertising and became a bible for the 1960s ad generation and is still considered required reading by many in the ad game.

As you might expect, Ogilvy had some opinions related to the management of people.  One area he dips into is the paranoia that can accompany resignations.  Here's his strategy: David

When a good man quits, his cronies wonder why, and generally suspect that he has been mistreated by management.  Recently I have found a way to prevent this misunderstanding.  When my young copy chief resigned to become Vice Chairman of another agency, he and I exchanged letters in the style of a cabinet minister resigning to a Prime Minster, and they were printed in our staff magazine.  The dear defector wrote to me:

You must accept the blame for what I am as an advertising man.  You invented me and have taught me how much I do not know.  You once said that you should have charged me tuition all these years, and it's true.

I replied in kind:

It has been a grand experience to watch you grow in 11 short years from cub writer to Copy Chief.  You have become one of our best campaign builders.  Your vitality and resilience make it possible for you to remain clam and cheerful - contagiously cheerful - through all the tribulations which buffet copy chiefs.

Now - I'm on the record as HATING long, one-say email missives that someone is leaving the organization.  But getting permission to print an exchange between a manager and departing employee in which the employee acknowledges they have learned much from the experience at your company and the manager says a few nice words?

Gold.  We should do more of this.  It won't fit in every situation, but for voluntary terms where you like the person leaving, it has power.  The power is in the two-way exchange of gratitude.  Ogilvy says nothing about having a heavy heart related to the employee leaving (which can cause panic and strife), he's actually taking credit for GROWING the person in question - and the exiting employee is giving him credit for having done that.

Think like a marketer - even when someone resigns...

Comments

Nermine Fawzy

People with half a wit, will leave their organization without burning bridges. Having said that, if someone sends something like this and agrees to have it published, how much credibility does it hold? People will assume that he had to be politically correct or he doesn't want to lose potential networks of people, etc. a handful of people, at most, will think it is from the heart.
Now, what usually happens, is that person has shared with others in the organization why they are leaving and that is what counts! Did they leave because their manager was difficult, wasn't gettin paid what they should be getting paid, they got offered a great opportunity, etc...this is what will be remembered not the email they sent to management

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