Monday, March 03, 2008

Why Do Talented Employees Leave The Company?



Largest studies undertaken by the Gallup Organization.


Why do talented employees leave companies? Come to think of it.

This is almost 100% true. Read below & find out the answer.


Early this year, Arun, an old friend who is a senior software designer,

got an offer from a prestigious international firm to work in its India

operations developing specialized software. He was thrilled by the offer.

He had heard a lot about the CEO of this company, a charismatic man

often quoted in the business press for his visionary attitude.


The salary was great. The company had all the right systems in place

employee-friendly human resources (HR) policies, a spanking new office,

the very best technology, even a canteen that served superb food.


Twice Arun was sent abroad for training. “My learning curve is the

sharpest it’s ever been,” he said soon after he joined. “It’s a real high

working with such cutting edge technology.”


Last week, less than eight months after he joined, Arun walked out of

the job. He has no other offer in hand but he said he couldn’t take it

anymore. Nor, apparently, could several other people in his department

who have also quit recently.


The CEO is distressed about the high employee turnover.


He’s distressed about the money he’s spent in training them.

He’s distressed because he can’t figure out what happened.

Why did this talented employee leave despite a top salary?

Arun quit for the same reason that drives many good people away.

The answer lies in one of the largest studies undertaken

by the Gallup Organization.


The study surveyed over a million employees and 80,000 managers

and was published in a book called First Break All The Rules.


It came up with this surprising finding: If you’re losing good people,

look to their immediate supervisor. More than any other single reason,

he is the reason people stay and thrive in an organization. And he’s the

reason why they quit, taking their knowledge, experience and contacts

with them. Often, straight to the competition.


“People leave managers not companies,” write the authors Marcus

Buckingham and Curt Coffman. “So much money has been thrown

at the challenge of keeping good people - in the form of better pay,

better perks and better training - when, in the end, turnover

is mostly a manager issue.” If you have a turnover problem,

look first to your managers. Are they driving people away?


Beyond a point, an employee’s primary need has less to do

with money, and more to do with how he’s treated and how valued

he feels. Much of this depends directly on the immediate manager.

And yet, bad bosses seem to happen to good people everywhere.

A Fortune magazine survey some years ago found that nearly

75 per cent of employees have suffered at the hands of difficult superiors.

You can leave one job to find - you guessed it, another wolf

in a pin-stripe suit in the next one.


Of all the workplace stressors, a bad boss is possibly the worst,

directly impacting the emotional health and productivity of employees.


Here are some all-too common tales from the battlefield:


Dev, an engineer, still shudders as he recalls the almost daily firings

his boss subjected him to, usually in front of his subordinates. His boss

emasculated him with personal, insulting remarks. In the face

of such rage, Dev completely lost the courage to speak up.

But when he reached home depressed, he poured himself a few drinks,

and magically, became as abusive as the boss himself. Only,

it would come out on his wife and children. Not only was his

work life in the doldrums, his marriage began cracking up too.


Another employee Rajat recalls the Chinese torture his boss put him

through after a minor disagreement. He cut him off completely.

He bypassed him in any decision that needed to be taken. “He stopped

sending me any papers or files,” says Rajat. “It was humiliating

sitting at an empty table. I knew nothing and no one told me anything.”

Unable to bear this corporate Siberia, he finally quit.


HR experts say that of all the abuses, employees find public humiliation

the most intolerable. The first time, an employee may not leave,

but a thought has been planted. The second time, that thought

gets strengthened. The third time, he starts looking for another job.


When people cannot retort openly in anger, they do so by passive

aggression. By digging their heels in and slowing down. By doing

only what they are told to do and no more. By omitting to give

the boss crucial information. Dev says: “If you work for a jerk,

you basically want to get him into trouble. You don’t have your

heart and soul in the job.”


Different managers can stress out employees in different ways –

by being too controlling, too suspicious, too pushy, too critical,

too nit-picky. But they forget that workers are not fixed assets,

they are free agents.


When this goes on too long, an employee will quit -- often over

seemingly trivial issue. It isn’t the 100th blow that knocks a

good man down. It’s the 99 that went before. And while it’s true

that people leave jobs for all kinds of reasons - for better opportunities

or for circumstantial reasons, many who leave would have stayed –

had it not been for one man constantly telling them, as Arun’s boss

did: “You are dispensable. I can find dozens like you.”


While it seems like there are plenty of other fish especially in

today’s waters, consider for a moment the cost of losing

a talented employee.


There’s the cost of finding a replacement. The cost of training the

replacement. The cost of not having someone to do the job in the

meantime. The loss of clients and contacts the person had with

the industry. The loss of morale in co-workers. The loss of trade secrets

this person may now share with others.


Plus, of course, the loss of the company’s reputation. Every person

who leaves a corporation then becomes its ambassador, for better or for

worse. We all know of large IT companies that people would love to join

and large television companies few want to go near. In both cases,

former employees have left to tell their tales.


“Any company trying to compete must figure out a way to engage

the mind of every employee,” Jack Welch of GE once said. Much of

a company’s value lies “between the ears of its employees”. If it’s

bleeding talent, it’s bleeding value.


Unfortunately, many senior executives busy travelling the world,

signing new deals and developing a vision for the company, have

little idea of what may be going on at home.


That deep within an organization that otherwise does all the

right things, one man could be driving its best people away.

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