Few things are more discouraging than when a great employee gives their notice. After nearly 20 years as a headhunter, I know a few things about why great employees decide to leave.
Surprise. It’s rarely about money.
1. They don’t feel appreciated.
It’s the curse of competence. When someone consistently delivers good results we tend to assign them more and more tasks. Even if the tasks aren’t things they are interested in or really worthy of their time, energy, and effort. This is especially dangerous with people who are wired as people pleasers. They will keep taking on these new jobs and probably not complain about it, but meanwhile, they’re dying a little inside each day. So, when no one seems to care or notice that they’re doing 80% of the work, or they’ve taken on another part-time role and didn’t get any noticeable bump in pay - they start seeing what’s on the job boards and responding to emails from recruiters.
2. They have a co-worker who sucks.
We’ve all had a co-worker who sucked. Maybe they were lazy, grouchy, hopeless, it doesn’t really matter why they suck - the end result is the same. When leadership (that’s you) doesn’t take action to correct the behavior you're sending a clear message to your team that being hopeless pays off. There is virtually no consequence for their bad behavior. It doesn’t take long for resentment to build and for your great employees to start looking elsewhere. Have a toxic employee you’re not sure how to deal with? Check out my free training on dealing with toxic employees.
3. They don’t see any upward path for their career.
Most high performing people are always striving. If they feel like they’ve “hit the ceiling” at your organization they are going to start looking outside to find that growth they need to feel complete. If you have a key right-hand employee it’s important to be upfront and talk about their career goals and paths. Small businesses may not have clear career progression plans, but they have flexibility. You may be able to put this key employee in charge of a new division or expand to new areas. It’s better to have the conversation and figure out what they want. In some cases, they may be happy in their current role for the next 10 years because you give them the flexibility to attend their kids events, etc. But, what’s the plan for when they’re an empty nester and ready to focus on their career again? The best thing you can do as a manager is to have a conversation and be real.
If any of these situations made you think, do yourself a favor and take corrective action today. Trust me, none of these things are as hard to do as dealing with the hole in your tribal knowledge caused by a great employee deciding to move on.
Rikka Brandon is the author of the best-selling book Hire Power: Everything Entrepreneurs Need To Know To Hire Awesome People. She’s the creator of the Hire Power Program, an online program designed to help small businesses build a rock-solid recruiting strategy and stop settling when they hire. She’s the Founder of RikkaBrandon.com and Building Gurus. Rikka is the go-to girl for growth-minded entrepreneurs and forward-thinking business leaders and is considered as the USA’s Top Hiring Expert for Small Businesses.