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 StevenArmstrong.ca and a professional leadership recruiter to answer all your questions.

Register Here

Does Your Team Have an Accountability Problem?


“We need to hold people more accountable.”

How many times have you said this in the past year? When things aren’t going well — maybe your numbers are down, you haven’t met your goals, or your pipeline is dry — it’s easy to turn to this familiar mantra.

But when you say it, your team members hear: “You are letting me down,” or, “We are failing.” Instead of lighting an inspired fire under people, you can deflate them.

While there will undoubtedly be times when your team could put in a more focused effort, in my experience, a “lack of accountability” often results from an underlying issue, such as unclear roles and responsibilities, limited resources, a poor strategy, or unrealistic goals. This is why leaders who default to a plea for accountability often hit a wall and feel even more frustrated.

Further, verbalizing that there is “a lack of accountability” on your team can quickly come off as threatening or condescending to people on the receiving end. This is hardly productive when trying to inspire change; more importantly, it doesn’t help you get to the root of the problem.

When you need to push those around you to get better results (that’s what you are looking for), a better approach is to tackle the issue with a leadership mindset. Use the following steps to guide yourself on how to start the conversation, identify the real problem, and execute a plan to help you solve it.

Check in with yourself first. 

Instead of asking, “Why aren’t they doing their part?” ask, “Is there anything I can do differently to help?”

While you should avoid feeling compelled to complete someone else’s work, it is beneficial to consider whether gaps in communication, process or other areas are setting you both back.

Before even approaching the other person, consider the following:

  • Have I been transparent about my expectations?
  • Have I asked what I can do to help?
  • Have I taken time to brainstorm and review processes?
  • Have I built a plan of action with my team members?

Self-awareness is a leadership superpower, and reflecting this way may help you recognize any unhelpful patterns you can fall into.

Another tip for increasing self-awareness is to pay attention to what’s happening in your body.

Do you feel tense when considering this discussion with your team member? Do you clench your jaw, fidget, pace, bounce your leg, change your facial affect, talk more, or shut down?

Work to shift your mindset from a place of hostility to a place of curiosity about how you can help.

Create a safe environment for the other person. 

Once you’ve set up time to talk, begin the conversation by asking fact-based questions. For example, if your team member is constantly missing deadlines, you could start by saying, “I’ve noticed that you seem to need a little more time to get the work done lately.”

If a team member has failed to reach their quarterly goals, you could say something as simple as, “How do you feel your work has been going this quarter?” and gauge their initial reaction.

Provide specific examples, then ask, “What can we do to help you get back on track?”

Avoid jumping directly into critical feedback or using judgmental language such as, “Why would you…”, “You should have…” or “That’s wrong.” It helps to assume positive intent in the other person. The goal here is to listen and to remain genuinely open to their “take” on things.

By listening, paying attention, and understanding the needs and motivations of the other person, you may discover that they are not “lazy,” “incapable,” or “unreliable,” but rather, that they are unclear on organizational goals. You may discover that they need more feedback to do their best work or that other obstacles are holding them back. While none entirely excuse a lack of initiative or follow-through, understanding the underlying issues can give you a clear idea about how to move forward.

Ensure there is clarity and a mutual agreement on moving forward. 

Now that you have identified any underlying issues, it’s time to clarify that your intention in starting this conversation is to address the core of the problem and agree upon a path forward (considering any new information you have just been given).

Whether your goal is to help a direct report meet deadlines or to collaborate more effectively with a team member on a project, it’s vital to make sure that you both understand what the issue is, how to address it, what success looks like, what needs to be done, by who, and by when to achieve it.

Next, directly own and express your frustration with what you see to be the problem. For example, you might say, “I know you are not intentionally missing deadlines, and now I have a clearer understanding of everything on your plate. But when you do miss deadlines, the result is that I have to take on your unfinished work, which causes me to get behind on my projects. I often feel frustrated by this.”

Finally, ask if the other person would be open to trying new strategies to address the issue. A better approach may be, “Based on our conversation, let’s try to agree to a mutual set of objectives and then brainstorm how we might develop a strategy to achieving those goals. “

In all cases, seek to demonstrate empathy and work towards a mutual commitment around a goal. From there, you can brainstorm and agree on some concrete next steps.

Regularly track and measure progress. 

You’ve heard of the importance of leaving a paper trail. The lesson is the same, but we don’t use paper often. Ensure you get the agreed-upon plan in writing so it can be revisited if there are any questions about what was initially decided. Don’t just set it and forget it. Determine what communication tools you will use to check in on progress.

The above documents will help you identify what’s working and what’s not over some time, as well as course-correct as needed.

Pleading for more accountability isn’t the answer to your problem.

Anyone can express frustration around an issue, but those who harness self-awareness and empathy find practical solutions and build winning teams and colleagues for life. If you want to be a next-level leader or peer, one that people want to work with, shift your mindset and practice these five steps. You’ll drive better results, more impactful change, and reduce frustration.

10 Solutions To Stop Good Objectives From Going Bad

So many objectives – so many failures

That’s the refrain of leaders everywhere.

The business objectives they need to meet to be successful in their jobs are taking longer than planned, costing more than budgeted or failing outright.

Why do good objectives go bad?

My clients say the ten most common mistakes that cause their good objectives to go wrong – and the coaching solutions I helped them with to solve these costly problems.

Mistake No. 1: Not Assigning the Right Manager. Typically, more time is spent fighting for resources than finding the right person to lead. Too often, managers get picked based on availability, not necessarily skill set. This is a severe mistake as more projects failed because of the wrong manager than could ever be blamed for lack of resources.

Solution: Choose a manager whose skills best match the requirements of your objectives.

Mistake No. 2: Failing to Get Everyone On Board. Too often, objectives fail because they don’t get enough support from those affected by and involved in the project. Usually, the manager:

  1. It didn’t make clear what everyone’s role was.
  2. It didn’t describe the payoff when the objective was achieved.
  3. It didn’t tell how each person’s contributions would be evaluated.
  4. Failed to generate a sense of urgency.

Solution: The project manager should start by calling the team together and delivering a presentation about the objective and its importance to the broader organization.

Read More: How to Communicate

Mistake No. 3: Not Getting Executive Buy-in.

Solution: A ship without a captain soon runs aground. Somebody at the higher levels of the organization needs to own the objective and be personally vested in its success.

If the objective isn’t crucial to your boss, ask yourself why it should be meaningful.

Mistake No. 4: Putting Too Many Objectives on the table at One time. Most managers think that they can start and work on every objective at the same time. In reality, multitasking slows people down, hurts quality and, worst of all, the delays caused by multitasking cascade and multiply through the organization as people further down the line wait for others.

Solution: A good first step to stop productivity losses is to reduce the objectives you are working on by 25 percent. Though counter-intuitive, reducing the number of open projects increases completion rates.”

Read more about priorities.

Mistake No. 5: Lack of (Regular) Communication. Communication is the most crucial factor of successful objectives; without regularly communicating, the project will fall apart.”

Solution: Schedule time each week to review progress and stick with it. Regularly scheduled meetings and communications processes help to keep everyone on the same page and work flowing.

Mistake No. 6: Not Being Specific with the Scope of the Objective. Any objective that doesn’t have a clear goal is doomed. Mission creep is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to your project. If not handled properly, it can lead to cost and time overrun.

Solution: Define the scope of your project from the outset and monitor the project by continually asking if our work is contributing to the objective’s success.

Mistake No. 7: Providing Overly Optimistic Timelines. The intentions are noble, but missing deadline after deadline will only lead to distrust and aggravation.

Solution: Add a buffer — some extra time and money to your project.

Mistake No. 8: Not Being Flexible. While you may think of your plan as the bible that leads you to your goal, listen to new information and suggestions that come up along the way.

Solution: Step back and take a fresh look at the overall project, review how things have gone so far, and how you can improve.

Mistake No. 9: Micromanaging Projects. New managers commonly treat their job as an enforcer, policing the team for progress and updates.

Solution: Set expectations from the start that there will be regularly scheduled updates to advise the status and progress expected and encourage them to vocalize any issues.

Read more about micromanagement.

Mistake No. 10: Not Having Defined Success.

Solution: The first thing a manager should do is to ensure what will be considered a successful completion of the objective. Understanding what success looks like ensures everyone walks away satisfied at the end.

Is It Time To Get Rid Of Top-Down Supervision

Leadership is not for a select few people at the top of the organization; a healthy Organization has leaders at every level.

I hear it all the time, supervisors griping that their employees lack ownership in their work and projects. But the very same supervisors do not realize that they take actions that take ownership away from their people every day.

Hoping people take ownership is not a plan; leaders of healthy organizations implement systems and mechanisms that give ownership and eliminate mechanisms that inhibit a sense of ownership.

Read more about accountability.

Top-down systems rob people of their sense of ownership, so the more you can do to eliminate them, the better. I am not talking about monitoring data and results, as these should make the invisible visible.

The systems I am speaking about are where senior management determines what their subordinates should be doing and then holds them accountable.

I have experienced that people do their best work when they are accountable to themselves and their teammates.

When it comes to processes, adherence to the process frequently becomes the objective, as opposed to achieving the goal that the process was put in place to achieve.

It drives people crazy when the process becomes the outcome.

Edward Deming, who explored the principle of Total Quality Leadership, said that systems to monitor efficiency improved efficiency.

But processes that monitored the process caused the organization to become inefficient.

Monitoring processes, or how employees do their job, sends the message that we do not trust you.

And in the end, it drives employees away from taking ‘ownership.’

If you are clear about your intent and what employees are not allowed to do in carrying out your intent, you will drive ownership.

Read more about leading with intent.

Consider these questions:

How are you underutilizing the ideas, creativity, and passions of your mid-level managers responsible for their departments’ results?

Which monitoring systems can you hand over to mid-level managers and department heads?

What are the top-down monitoring systems in your organization? And how can you eliminate them?

 

What are the Four levels of Accountability Systems?

Level 1 – Chaos: People are not told what they are accountable for and therefore don’t do their jobs

Level 2 – Inefficient: People are told what they are accountable for but don’t do their jobs because of overwork or focus on the wrong things. This is most inefficient because resources are invested in monitoring, but work isn’t getting done.

Level 3 – Compliance: People understand what they are responsible for and do their work because there are systems to hold people accountable. People often feel forced into doing their jobs. This is where most organizations are and work towards, but this is top-down leadership.

Level 4 – Healthy: People are not told what to do because they have figured it out independently. And they hold themselves and their peers accountable for results with a minimum of monitoring systems. This is a highly engaged, energized, and healthy organization where people have engaged and ownership of their work.

 

In top-down organizations, accountability processes are designed with the idea that you, the employee, cannot hold yourself accountable for your work; therefore, your boss needs to do it for you.

In a Healthy Organization, people hold themselves and their peers to account for their performance.

Leaders in a Healthy organization are not to hold employees accountable but to help them keep themselves accountable.

Read more about organizational health.

 

How wonderful would it be if people did not have to attend dreaded accountability meetings? How powerful would it be if people felt safe enough to ask others, ‘Can you help me stay on track.’

 

This would inspire accountability and efficiency, creativity and energy.

Get rid of Top-Down Supervision

Leadership is not for a select few people at the top of the organization; a healthy Organization has leaders at every level.

I constantly hear supervisors gripe about their employees’ lack of ownership in their work and projects. However, the same supervisors do not realize that they take actions that take ownership away from their people.

Read about leading with intent.

Hoping people take ownership is not a plan.

Leaders of healthy organizations implement systems and mechanisms that eliminate mechanisms that inhibit a sense of ownership.

Top-down systems rob people of their sense of ownership, so the more you can do to eliminate them, the better. I am not talking about monitoring data and results, as these should make the invisible visible.

The systems I am speaking about involve senior management determining what their subordinates should be doing and then holding them accountable.

In my experience, people do their best work when they are accountable to themselves and their teammates.

Read more about accountability.

When it comes to processes, adherence to the process frequently becomes the objective, as opposed to achieving the goal that the process was put in place.v  

It drives people crazy when the process becomes the outcome.

W. Edward Deming, who explored the principle of Total Quality Leadership, said that systems to monitor efficiency improved efficiency. However, processes that monitored the process made the organization inefficient.

Monitoring processes, or how employees do their jobs, sends the message that we do not trust you.

And in the end, it drives employees away from taking ‘ownership.’

You will drive ownership if you are clear about your intent and what employees are not allowed to do when carrying out your plan.

 

Consider these questions:

How are you underutilizing the ideas, creativity, and passions of your mid-level managers, who are responsible for their departments’ results?

Which monitoring systems can you hand over to mid-level managers and department heads?

What are the top-down monitoring systems in your organization? And how can you eliminate them?

 

What are the Four levels of Accountability Systems?

Level 1 – Chaos: People are not told what they are accountable for and therefore don’t do their jobs

Level 2 – Inefficient: People are told what they are accountable for but don’t do their jobs because of overwork or focus on the wrong things. This is most inefficient because resources are invested in monitoring, not getting work done.

Level 3 – Compliance: People understand what they are responsible for and do their work because there are systems to hold people accountable. People often feel forced to do their jobs. This is where most organizations are and work towards, but this is top-down leadership.

Level 4 – Healthy: People are not told what to do because they have figured it out independently. They also hold themselves and their peers accountable for results with a minimum number of monitoring systems. This is a highly engaged, energized, and healthy organization where people have committed and ownership of their work.

 

In traditional top-down organizations, accountability processes say that you, the employee, cannot hold yourself accountable for your work; therefore, your boss must do it for you.

In a healthy organization, people hold themselves and their peers accountable for their performance.

Read about Healthy organizations.

Leaders in a healthy organization do not hold employees accountable; they help them hold themselves accountable.

How powerful would it be if people felt safe enough to ask others, ‘Can you help me stay on track.’

This would inspire accountability and efficiency, creativity and energy.

Three 3-minute articles to discuss with your team to create a lifetime of positive change (for everyone).

This article has been reprinted several times, most recently,

the Engineering Management Institute has reprinted it

What you can do with this: You can print, read, share, and discuss it.

How to use this material:

      • Discuss. Remind. Encourage.
      • That’s my recommended approach to helping people commit and develop.
      • I recommend reading and discussing the first three articles with your team and repeat weekly.
      • Each can be read in less than three minutes and discussed in 10 to 15 minutes.

How to prepare:

      • Share one of the articles with your team and schedule a time for discussion.
      • Or share the guide with your department leaders and have them facilitate smaller discussions.
      • Ask everyone to read the discussion article.
      • Ask them to make notes on anything they find valuable or disagree with. If you prefer, give them some questions about the material for ideas and ask them to provide some advanced thought.
      • On your own, read the article, make your notes, and answer the questions you intend to ask or give.
      • Give some quick thought to any likely objections or challenges to the material you can anticipate from your group. (Who might ask what and how you want to respond?)
      • Introduce your upcoming discussions in person or by email. Feel free to use the following as a suggested script to edit to fit your style:

“I came across a few short articles that significantly impacted me. I thought we all might benefit from reading and discussing them over the next few weeks – one each week.

“Each article can be read in less than three minutes. Please read the first one and give some advanced thought to it. Make notes on anything that connects with you.

“Let’s kick off next week strong and meet in the conference room Monday morning at 8:00 for 20 minutes at most.

“I think the effort will be good for our work, but it also might be helpful to each of us personally.”

Discussion tips:

      • Be enthusiastic.
      • Avoid interrupting or finishing someone’s thoughts or answers.
      • Add a small gap of silence to an answer – just a beat or two. This may allow someone to expand on something and avoid someone feeling that they need to rush through their answers.
      • When you feel someone might have more value to add, encourage them with a “What do you mean, Nancy?” or “Can you expand on that?” or “What happened next?”
      • Invite different people to contribute to the discussion or have other people lead the talks each week.
      • Be ready to help the discussion move on if someone takes too much control of it. (“Good point, Bob. If we have time in the end, let’s come back to this.”)

Discussion #1: Slippery Moments & Quiet Quitting

The Gallup organization says that in North America, roughly:

              • 29% of us are engaged and care about our work
              • 54% of us are just “Going Through the Motions.”
              • 17% are “Disgruntled” and get in the way of those who care

Of course, we all have moments when we are not working at our best, but the “Going Through the Motions” people or those who have “Quietly Quit” are challenging to deal with. Dealing with the “Going Through the Motions” or “Disgruntled” can be slippery and trip you up.

Slippery Moments Discussion Questions:

          • How do you think the numbers from Gallup stand up here?
          • What are some typical examples of moments we see here?
          • What are the consequences for our customers/ourselves?
          • What are your thoughts on the problem?
          • What are a few specific things we could start doing today to make those “Going Through the Motions” or “Disgruntled” moments less frequent? What else?

Discussion #2: Distraction Diet

Imagine the incredible results you’d have if you focused more during your day. You could:

                • Contribute more
                • Serve people better (internally and externally)
                • Come up with more ideas
                • Waste less time ramping back up
                • Create more opportunities
                • Plan better
                • Be less frustrated and stressed

Five ways to knock out the bulk of distractions:

        1. Establish focus hours for yourself. Set aside time each day when you’ll be unavailable for anything but true emergencies. If you can, commit to no inter-office communications during focus hours unless it genuinely can’t wait. No small talk. No “Hey… just a sec” interruptions.
        2. Turn off email alerts and commit to checking them at the most minimal level you feel is possible without harming service to others.
        3. Turn off chat and messaging apps (personal and team) unless your work requires it to get the job done.
        4. Avoid the web during your money hours (hours of the workday where you make good things happen) unless you need it for your work. The distractions are endlessly pleasant for those who’d prefer to avoid making good things happen (not your goal).
        5. Face away from distractions if you’re in a setting that allows you to do so.

Distraction Diet Discussion Questions:

          • What are the most valuable of the five ideas for us? The least valuable? Why? Why not?
          • What impact can our distraction have on our customers/colleagues?
          • What are some other ideas we could do to improve?
          • If we gave out an award to the most focused person on our team/department, who would win it? Why?
          • How can we help each other when we slip? What kind of agreement can we make to stay committed to better focus?

“The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions. The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed. Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door.” ~ MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (1929 – 1968)

Discussion #3: Do as I say, not as I do.

Given that most of us can’t get it right all the time, is it just more good advice?

          • Someone suggests you be more approachable to invite opportunity and better relationships, but you hide behind your desk.
          • Is the advice wrong if a boss is not patient or thankful but suggests that you should be?

When I find myself indulging in being grumpy, I’ve found it helpful to remember four things:

          1. I’m a grown-up.
          2. It’s not about me.
          3. I won’t be here forever.
          4. I want to make good things happen for others (which, in turn, will make good things happen for me).

Do as I Say Discussion Questions:

          1. What connected most with you from the article? Why?
          2. Why do you think someone’s hypocrisy makes it easier for us to disregard their advice?
          3. What does “Go first … and stay with it” mean?
          4. How do you think we can better minimize our occasional negative moods?
          5. What would you add or revise to overcome grumpiness?

My conclusion

It’s always the leader.

  • We try to hire the right people. We do our best to develop and grow those people.
  • But we get busy and stop listening. Take a few moments each month to use these questions to prompt a conversation.

Listen.

  • You will be surprised, even shocked, with what you will learn.
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