You never saw it coming. Is that what you want us to believe?
You came to work one day and, in an instant, one of your very best people just quit on you.
They said they had something important to share, and you asked them to hang on a sec while you freshened your coffee.
Then they sat down in your office and looked you right in the eye to explain how they were moving on to another opportunity.
You nearly choked on your next sip.
You had been their manager, mentor and savior. You were so sure things were going great (which they probably were).
You asked them all the time how things were going, and they said nothing but positive stuff.
They’d never lie to you, would they?
Well, they just did (sort of).
They just left you for a competitor, and you feel like you got sucker punched … right in the face.
It’s said good people leave bad managers, and they most certainly do.
But good people also leave good managers, and even great managers.
So don’t be surprised when it happens.
In spite of all our efforts, good people DO leave great bosses.
Here are some reasons why.
It’s The Nature Of The Work World
LinkedIn recently asked 18,000 gainfully employed professionals what would it take for them to consider leaving their current employer.
The top answer really shouldn’t surprise anyone: Better compensation and benefits.
Coming in a close second: Better work/life balance.
And No. 3 on the list: Greater opportunities for advancement.
No surprises there. Everybody wants those things, right?
But here is a surprising finding from the same survey.
LinkedIn research consultant Matt Grunewald estimated that 85% of the workforce is either actively looking for a job, or open to talking to a recruiter about what’s out there.
It may not seem like a big shift, but the number was 80% just a couple years back. So clearly, if opportunity is knocking, good people are (if not opening the door) at least peeking to see who’s there.
It’s OK To A-S-S-U-M-E
Forget the adage about people who assume. Go ahead and assume all your people are looking.
It’s better that way. Even when they look you in the eye and say they are not looking.
Psychologists tell us that by the age of 4, children can look a parent dead in the eye and lie to them.
So, it’s not personal. It’s innate. It’s a survival thing.
Good People Want To Be Above Average
There are a gazillion surveys like LinkedIn’s that show good people go job hunting for better salaries.
So beware: If you are paying a “competitive salary,” that only means you are right in the average with most of your competitors.
Problem? Good people like to be above average.
So, competitive salaries stop being an important retention tool the moment people leave you for more money.
It’s Not ALWAYS About Money
Ever notice you never know who to believe when it comes to surveys?
When employers were asked what they think employees want, here were the answers.
- Good wages
- Job security
- Promotion/growth opportunities
- Good working conditions
- Interesting work
But when employees were asked what they wanted, they said:
- Full appreciation for work done
- Feeling “in” on things
- Sympathetic help on personal problems
- Job security
- Good wages
So you can’t always trust what you read (except this). But good managers are people you keep in touch with even after you leave a position.
You can take heart in that, and you can take advantage of that.
The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It
Every year Forbes magazine publishes its list of the Best Places to Work. The 2015 list came out at the start of the year, so now would be a good time to poll those employees and see how accurate the list really was.
It includes places like Google, Costco, LL Bean and (this is not a typo) Marathon Petroleum.
The problem, of course, is that those companies only have so many openings and so many employees. We can’t all work there, or manage there.
- Eventually, new and better opportunities will come along for your more talented people.
- At some point your talented folks will naturally tire of what they are doing and they will want to do something else.
- At some point a job offer will come along and your star won’t know whether to stay or go.
But, if and when a star decides to leave, you just have to understand and hope that someday they’ll return.
It does happen.
And whether they ever come back will depend on how you acted when they left.