How one leader's pricey mistake proved that the bottom line ... isn’t always the bottom line

June 15, 2017

As a technology consulting services and solutions firm, Catapult Systems’ mission is to help clients avoid mistakes relating to business-critical technologies. Given that goal, we wondered if the company would participate when we asked them to share a "big mistake" story.

Luckily, Liam Collopy, chief people officer at Catapult, got in the spirit of things and regaled us with a story.

Like so many mistakes, this one starts in a local watering hole:

THE MISTAKE: A senior employee with an important role at Catapult was leaving the company at a critical time. Instead of being bitter and resentful, her department threw her a happy hour. I grabbed the tab when it came and said I would expense it.

Then I saw the amount. I almost fell out of my chair.

THE FALLOUT: This was during a tough financial time in the economy, so we were not in a place to be picking up tabs for expensive happy hours. I went in to my boss, the CEO, and told him about the tab. He jokingly said: “Liam, we don’t have happy hours that expensive for people joining Catapult, let alone people leaving the company.”

THE BENEFIT: We could have treated the departing employee poorly because we were hurt that she was leaving us. By throwing her a going-away happy hour, albeit a very expensive one, we sent her out into the business community with a positive last impression. In fact, she came back to Catapult two years later.

It’s important for an employee’s exit experience to be a fair and positive one. Negative word-of-mouth can have an immeasurably high cost to a company’s reputation in the market. 

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