The 7 Hidden Reasons Your Employees Leave You

In The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, employee-retention expert Leigh Branham discusses how companies can tackle employee disengagement and retain their best and brightest people.

Nearly 90% of bosses think their employees quit to make more money.

That means nearly 90% of bosses are wrong.

Studies show these are the seven “real” reasons that retention isn’t better:

Ask HR people about their top issue, which will likely be retention. That’s no surprise. The cost in dollars and disruption of replacing a trained employee is enormous.

What is surprising is how much employers misunderstand why their people leave; author Leigh Branham, SPHR, explains that this misunderstanding is evident in one astonishing statistical comparison:

–Employers who think their people leave for more money: 89%

–Employees who do leave for more money: 12%

The latter result, says Branham, founder of retention consultant KeepingthePeople, Inc., comes from a study of 19,700 post-exit interviews done by the Saratoga Institute, an independent research group. The data identified seven “hidden reasons” employees resign. Here are those reasons, along with Branham’s antidote for each:

1) Job not as expected. This is a prime reason for early departures. Branham’s answer: “Give a realistic job preview to every candidate.”

2) The job doesn’t fit my talents and interests. Branham attributes this to hiring too quickly and advises employers to “hire for fit. Match their talents to your needs.”

3) Little or no feedback/coaching. Today’s employees, especially younger workers, want “feedback whenever I want it, at the touch of a button.” Give it honestly and often, says Branham, and you’ll get job commitment, not just compliance.

Read to get six great coaching questions.

4) No hope for career growth. The antidote: Provide self-management tools and training.

5) Feel devalued and unrecognized. Money issues appear here, says Branham, but the category also includes even more employees who complained that no one ever said ‘thanks’ on the job or listened to what they had to say. Address the compensation issue with a fair and understandable system, says Branham. Then listen – and respond – to employee input. “Also, ask yourself ‘how many of my employees get too much recognition?'” 

Read about Attila The Hun & Recognition

6) Feel overworked and stressed out. Branham says this comes from insufficient respect in the organization for employees’ life/work balance. Recommended: Institute a “culture of giving” that meets employees’ total needs.

7) Lack of trust or confidence in leaders. Leaders have to understand that they’re there to serve employees’ needs, says Branham, not the other way around. Develop leaders who care about and nurture their workers; trust and confidence will also develop.

Read about trust and high performance.

How significant is the payoff for companies that follow these guidelines?

Branham looks to Fortune’s “Great Places to Work” list, where, he says, companies apply these principles: “While the average S&P 500 company grew 25 percent,” he reports, “these companies grew an average of 133 percent. It pays to treat people right.”

Why not join us on March 28th for a fantastic Better Leader session?

We will be joined by a Guest Speaker who is a great friend of and a professional leadership recruiter to answer all your questions.

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3 Things You Need To Do So Your First 90-days Aren’t Your Last Days

So you have been hired as a CEO or other senior role.

First, you must understand that your job is to achieve the organization’s strategic goals.

As the person holding that position, you must demonstrate superior management skills and leadership expertise to connect all facets of the organization to the mission through open, honest and transparent communication.

First 90:

I am not a massive fan of the 90-day plan, but you better understand what you will do today when you show up for that first day of work.

Here is the focus of the first 90 days of your tenure will be to establish a solid base from which you can achieve your strategic goals by gathering information and setting a solid leadership tone:

1. Before Day One: The first step is to get over yourself and commit to the organization you have chosen to lead. It would be best if you devoted time to becoming familiar with the organization and its situation through informal meetings with the Board Chair and Executive Committee.

2. People: Attend to the fundamental “people processes” and leadership basics of getting to know your new team and identify items requiring immediate attention or ongoing legal issues. After confirming that these have been adequately addressed, turn your attention to team evaluation, its performance and team building.

3. Your Boss’s Priorities: Your most important relationship is with your boss. Review recent business and reports, the status of the strategic objectives and most importantly, establish parameters of your authority.

Read about Partnering with your boss.


  1. Listening: Talk with (and listen to) everyone, starting at the top and working down through the organizational hierarchy. These conversations will build credibility and relationships with key individuals, staff, and stakeholders.

Read about using silence to listen better.

2. Assessing the Staff team: This includes evaluating the team members and organizational structure relative to meeting our goals. It would involve time with team members to understand their history, focus, roles, and what is on their minds.

Do not feel compelled to resolve structural problems within 90 days, but assess the issues. Your new staff team may be fragile and would naturally be worried about a new Boss. Be on the lookout for team members who may require careful attention or those who are, perhaps, no longer fully committed and consider performance management plans as needed.


  • Easy Wins: Addressing the easy, noncontroversial activities, which can be fixed quickly and successfully, will make an essential statement about trust and leadership.
  • Get Out: Interacting with colleagues and stakeholders will increase your credibility but not neglect the business.
  • Communicate: Change is difficult. So, for even the most minor changes, consider a change management plan that would clearly and consistently communicate the change to those impacted, including those who may have only minor interest.
  • Set the Stage: People will oversee your activities; perceptions are essential. To those watching, time spent on an activity will signal its importance and set an example of work ethic.


Develop the Long Plan

As you do what I suggest, share your findings and thoughts with the Board as a sounding board and to receive advice and guidance.

As you close in on the 90-day mark, develop a strategy and craft your plan to lead and achieve our strategic goals and results.

High Performance is not the same as High Potential

We have all seen that employee, the one so good at their job no one can hold a candle to them.

I have seen it a thousand times: the soldier who was the best shot in the Regiment, the carpenter who built houses that could withstand a hurricane, or the warehouseman who knew where everything was.

All of these people and many, many more are examples of high performers.

But that soldier was always in trouble; the carpenter was promoted and failed as a supervisor, and the warehouseman would never give the last box of widgets out because he would have none left.

A soldier who can only do one thing and not get along with his peers is not a good soldier.

The warehouseman who cannot see his job as more than neat rows of shelves is a detriment to your operations.

And the world is full of poor site-superintendents who were, at one time, great carpenters,

Of course, functional ability and competency are essential.

But the difference between high performance and high potential is something you can easily spot.

What does it look like?




Consistently exceed expectations and have a track record of getting the job done.

Have demonstrated an initial aptitude for their technical abilities.
Take pride in their accomplishments.  The high performers determine their standards when it comes to quality results.
 May not have the potential (or desire) to succeed in a higher-level role. Have the ability and the aspiration to be successful leaders within an organization.
Need constant encouragement and challenging assignments. Work to understand the business on a deeper level and how it can significantly impact its success.



There is nothing wrong with high performance; we need these technically advanced people in our organization and reward and motivate them respectfully and fairly.

But DO NOT confuse High Performance with leadership potential.

As organizational leaders, we need to be ever vigilant with the high-potential people in our companies because they are often quiet and unassuming compared to their high-performing coworkers.

You can often hire technical expertise.

But you may never find that one leader you need to ensure your organization has the health and strength to succeed!

6 Hiring Mistakes That Can Cost You a Fortune

“Hiring mistake? What’s the big deal?

Yeah, so we lose one; thousands of those can fill their shoes!”

While pacifying yourself by saying this to yourself when a disgruntled employee leaves your company, it’s good to be mindful of the costs incurred by the employee who left.


Yes, and it’s hefty, keeping aside the time and energy spent considering a hiring manager’s mistakes.

What happens if you make recruitment mistakes?

According to, employers asked how a poor hire impacted their company noted:

  • decreased productivity by 37 percent,
  • extra time needed to find and train a replacement employee by 32 percent, and
  • subpar job quality by 31 percent.

What is a bad hire? What is the worst that a Hiring mistake can cause?

A bad hire is an employee who exhibits conduct that has a detrimental effect on team spirit, output, and essential business relationships.

A poor hire could lead to conflict in the office, undermine employee motivation and output, and pose a real threat to the expansion of your company. There are the financial expenses for the hiring and onboarding process and the employee’s compensation, benefits, and lost time and money spent hiring a replacement.

Finally, please take into consideration the effects on the remaining members of your staff, such as how motivated they are, how morale is affected, how much time and money are needed to rectify or repeat a terrible hire’s work, and how much more work managers must fit into their daily schedules to compensate for this shortcoming.

Your company’s reputation can be harmed, particularly if poor hires encounter clients directly.

Now that you know the avalanche that could be started because of mis-hires, here are a few top hiring mistakes to avoid before you burn out your company’s time, money, and resources.

Recruitment mistake 1: Hiring a candidate because you ‘know’ them.

Taking someone in because you owe that friend or friend you are inclined to push might be expensive. This friend of a friend may not have the skills you need. If you are worried about hurting someone’s feelings, remember that a true friend understands the situation they are putting you in if you end up taking a bad hire.

Recruitment mistake 2: The hiring because you were under pressure to Act

Deadlines and budget constraints could push you to make a bad hire, and it could haunt you. Managers might say, “We need to hire someone immediately,” which inevitably leads to a hiring mistake. Everyone becomes quite vigilant. The consequence of taking in a fast hire will often be a mis-hire.

Recruitment mistake 3: Not letting Actions speak louder than Talent.

It’s easier to unlearn if grades are not allowed to determine a person’s or a candidate’s overall quality. But here’s a fact: even someone with the highest GPA will not know the particulars needed for your posted job. And they may not even be a nice person. So, make it a point to test for character rather than the words in the resume.

Recruitment mistake 4: Do they fit in or stick out?

Ignoring how suitable the worker is to your culture is essential. The misfit will tend to underperform and create lousy office morale. Even the ablest candidates will underperform if their working style clashes with the hiring manager or doesn’t fit the team and company culture. The reasons for their non-functionality may be deeply rooted, so verifying their fit to the work environment is very important.

Recruitment mistake 5: Not picking the right kind of help.

This is the age of online skill and psychometric assessment platforms. The right thing to do is to pick the platform or the resource person that aligns differently with your visions and requirements; you might as well have hired yourself. Once you’ve hired top-notch people, integrate them into your staff smoothly. The long-term success of new hires depends on a thorough, structured onboarding procedure, which can also increase employee engagement and retention.

But remember to add a human touch. Greeting cards from management and co-workers may give a new hire a sense of encouragement. Instead of concentrating solely on orientation and paperwork, other effective onboarding tactics involve introducing the employee to the company’s culture and objectives.

Recruitment mistake 6: Not keeping pace.

It takes meaningful innovation to succeed when hiring. A solid talent base is essential for this. After you’ve chosen the finest candidates, it’s critical to keep advancing their skills so they can consistently exceed the competition. There are lots of specialized online training providers. And many in-person & virtual options.

Thoughtful Profound Questions Will Tell When You Are About To Make A Good Hire – Their’s, Not Yours!

Gary Vaynerchuk tells a story about when his ego got in the way of firing a bad hire. It was so bad that he fired the person on their first day. At least in Vaynerchuk’s mind, he fired the person on the first day, but it took Gary 4-months to do it.

Why? Because his ego got in the way, and he didn’t want to admit he made a mistake.

I did that, too. I made a terrible hire but was so committed to a course of action that I couldn’t get out of my way to do the right thing.

Read the story here.

A few years back, I hired a person on my team against other people’s wishes. I was sure he had the right skills and experience, and hiring the usual suspects hadn’t gotten the results I needed & wanted, so maybe it was time to be disruptive. I wasn’t sure I liked him either. He wasn’t kind or diplomatic in his comments. He wasn’t likable., He was a bully, and my not dealing with it caused harm to many people.

Big Mistake.

I used to have a propensity to hire only for talent. Until I realized that wasn’t helpful.

Another mistake.

Or I would hire people I liked. And I thought that was going well until I realized I had filled the room with many Me’s.

And that wasn’t helpful in the least.

But I have learned from my mistakes.

Three steps to making better hires?

Here is what you need to do.

Check your ego, and take time and space to consider the following questions:

  1. Make a list of your best hires. Consider why these people were great hires. What did they have in common? What parts of the process were most valuable?


  1. Consider what your organizational culture is, and then hire for fit.


  1. And lastly, don’t be blinded by talent. Talent is shiny and exciting, but it is not enough. My worst hire was super talented, but he was an SOB.

Then, set up a conversation when you land on a preferred candidate or a short list of a couple of people.

Try to do it over lunch or breakfast.

Watch how that person interacts with the waitstaff, whether off-site or over a meal. As this will speak volumes about that person’s character.

Get your copy of the Hunger Humble & Smart Hiring guide here.

Then, when the time is right, say this:

“Hey. Let’s not waste your time here by telling me what is in your CV and your work history or regurgitating any of the answers you gave during the interview process.

But please tell me what questions I can answer for you about this job?”

Usually, this completely disarms the candidate because they were likely expecting another round of canned interview questions. And:

  • It will demonstrate if they need to prepare to take on this role. If they had thought about it, they would have lots of questions.


  • It will show if they have connected with you deeper than responding to a question.


  • If they stumble around, it will show that they may not even know themselves as well as you need,


  • And finally, it will show if they are curious. Curious about the role, about you and the risks of coming to work for you. And there are always risks in changing jobs.

And if they ask good, thoughtful and, hopefully, profound questions, these will tell you they will be a good hire.





5 Actions To Drive Alignment and Increase in Profit – And Who Doesn’t Want More Profit

Poor managerial behaviours negatively impact engagement, alignment, productivity, and retention.

Research has identified gaps between what people expect and their experience when working with their immediate manager.

Poor managers cost your company money when:

  1. They don’t set clear goals with their people.
  2. They don’t align goals to the team, departmental, and organizational objectives.
  3. They don’t check in on progress.
  4. They don’t provide feedback.
  5. They don’t adjust their style based on the needs of the employee.
  6. They don’t listen.
  7. They don’t change (without training and support).


  1. They don’t set clear goals with their people.


About 70 percent of people want to have goal-setting conversations often or all the time, but only 36 percent do. When managers aren’t skilled in setting specific, trackable, relevant, attainable, and motivating goals, the result is multiple priorities, unclear action steps, and a poor line of sight on how work contributes to larger objectives.

“All good performance begins with a laser-like focus on goals,” so Identify 3 to 5 critical goals for each employee and make sure they are written down. Goals that are written down are 18 percent more likely to be achieved. Writing down the goal also makes it easier to review.

  1. They don’t align goals to the team, departmental, and organizational objectives.

Only 14 percent of organizations report that their employees understand their company’s strategy and direction.

When people don’t know where their company is going, they can work on projects that are out of step with organizational objectives.

Make sure all team members are working on the highest-priority tasks. Ask managers to check in and review priorities with their people. Ensure the work is meaningful, on target, and contributes to overall organizational goals.

  1. They don’t check in on progress.

More than 73 percent of people want to have goal-review conversations often or all the time, but only 47 percent do. And 26 percent say they rarely or never discuss current goals and tasks.

What gets measured gets managed.

Research conducted at Dominican University in California found that people who write down their goals, share them with someone else, and have regular weekly check-ins are 30 percent more likely to achieve those goals than people who do not.

  1. They don’t provide feedback.

Research shows that 67 percent of people want to have performance-feedback conversations often or all the time, but only 29 percent do. And 36 percent say they rarely or never receive performance feedback.

Without feedback, people don’t have a way to make course corrections or to know how they are doing until it’s late in the process. No one feels good when work must be redone because of a lack of feedback.

A few key attributes of good feedback are:

– Focus on observable behaviours, not personality traits. Feedback should be clear and directive and should focus on concrete actions.

– Keep a positive end goal in mind. Paint a positive picture of the desired outcome that gives people a vision to work toward.

– Offer to be an accountability partner. Change is hard. Offer to provide appropriate direction and support as needed.

  1. They don’t adjust their style based on the needs of the employee.

Nearly 54 percent of managers use the same leadership style for all people in all situations, regardless of whether a direct report is new to a task or already an expert. Half the time, this results in a manager either over-supervising or under-supervising.

The best managers tailor their management style to the needs of their employees. For example, if an employee is new to a task, a successful manager will use a highly directive style with clearly set goals and deadlines. If an employee struggles with a task, the manager will use equal measures of direction and support. If the employee is an expert at a task, a manager will use a delegating style on the current assignment and focus instead on coming up with new challenges and future growth projects.

  1. They don’t listen.

When I ask clients and audience members, “What is the biggest mistake leaders make when working with others?” Forty-one percent of the respondents identified inappropriate communication or poor listening.

Here’s a three-step model to help managers slow down and focus on what people share.

– Explore—ask open-ended questions such as, “Can you tell me more about that?” or “How do you think that will go?” or “What does that mean?”

– Acknowledge—respond with comments such as, “You must be feeling …” or “So, if I hear you correctly, what you’re saying is ….”

– Respond—now that you understand the direct report’s point of view, you can carefully move forward with a possible response.

  1. They don’t change (without training and support).

Most new managers—60 percent—underperform or fail in their first assignments. Worse yet, as Harvard researcher Linda Hill has found, managerial habits developed by new managers often continue to hobble them for the rest of their careers.

With two million people across North America stepping into their first managerial position each year, getting people the training they need is critical.

Unfortunately, research shows that most managers don’t receive formal training until ten years into their careers!

I suggest you rethink the traditional approach to who gets trained in the organization.

My suggestions?

  1. Don’t hold your best people back—in fact, don’t hold anyone back. Why not train everybody who desires it?
  2. Show everyone you value them and are willing to invest in their development.
  3. Adopt inclusive policies that identify and provide people with the training they need to build leadership bench strength, bring out the best in people, and create a strong work culture.

Better leadership practices have been positively associated with increased engagement, alignment, productivity, and performance.

Research has identified that better leadership practices—if fully employed—could be worth as much as a 7 percent increase in profits!

For leadership development professionals, these seven areas provide an opportunity to take a more targeted approach to improve manager performance in each region.

Here are five ways to get started.

  1. Take a look at the overall design of your performance management process.

Conduct a quick internal assessment. Are managers following best practices in setting specific, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable goals? What percentage of employees have current goals written down?

Individuals and organizations achieve more when goals are identified, written down, and reviewed consistently.

Read more about performance management

  1. Double-check on goal alignment at the team and department level.

Make sure that all team members are working on the highest-priority tasks. Ask managers to check in and review priorities with their people.

Ensure the work is meaningful, on target, and contributes to overall organizational goals. Efficiency improves when everyone is clear on goals and moving in the same direction.

Read more about goal alignment.

  1. Please look at how much time your managers spend with their people.

Everyone benefits from regular coaching and performance review.

Monitoring progress and providing feedback are two key ways for a manager to stay involved and partner with an employee to achieve goals. I suggest leaders meet with their direct reports at least twice a month to discuss progress toward goals and to address employee needs for direction and support.

Read more about time management.

  1. Identify what individuals need to succeed in their high-priority tasks.

Managers need to adjust their leadership style to meet each person’s needs, depending on their experience and confidence with the tasks they are assigned.

With proper levels of direction and support, people can move through stages of development and reach peak performance faster.

Surprisingly, without training, only 1 percent of managers are skilled at identifying and delivering all four styles when needed, whether directing, coaching, supporting, or delegating.

  1. Review your performance review process.

In many organizations, goals are set at the beginning of the year and not seen again until the review process at the end of the year.

I recommend that managers conduct a series of mini-reviews throughout the year—every 90 days is the recommended standard. This allows leaders to make mid-course corrections. It also eliminates surprises for direct reports and keeps the partnership between the manager and direct report solid and vibrant.

 Read more about goals.

Final Thoughts

A renewed focus on leadership development can significantly affect an organization’s performance. Research shows that when managers meet the needs of their people, organizations benefit through higher levels of discretionary effort, work performance, and intention to remain and collaborate more effectively.

How are the managers in your organization impacting your bottom line?

Give your leadership development process a review.

Great managers aren’t born—they’re trained.

Get started today by emailing me at