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 their top issue these days, and it’s likely to 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) Job doesn’t fit 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, and especially the 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 6 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 system that’s fair and understandable, 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 the life/work balance of employees. 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, and trust and confidence will develop as well.

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.”

5 Steps To Keeping The Waters Calm When A New Boss Enters The Pool

… of all the things that can cause ripples in our ‘pond’ changing CEO’s should be considered the equivalent of doing a cannonball dive into the water …

A quick note from Steve:

This article focuses on the new CEO or ED, but the discussion can apply to anyone taking on the role of ‘New Boss.’



As leaders, we often consider changes within our organization that impact our culture or our progress towards successfully achieving or goals.

The change could be a location change; IT changes, new strategic plans, economic downturns or a myriad of organizational changes that can cause ripples in our corporate waters.

In my experience, one of the least managed organizational change is a leadership change.

And of all the things that can cause ripples in our ‘pond’ changing CEO’s should be considered the equivalent of doing a cannonball dive into the water.

An additional complication is that boards of directors are increasingly seeking leaders from outside of their organization. 

In 2017, 44% of US companies & organizations searching for new leadership hire from outside the organization.

Often outsiders are chosen to deliver strategic course corrections, restructures, mergers, culture change, or digital transformation and under short timelines incoming CEO’s need to have a deep understanding of their leadership competencies and effectiveness. 


The new CEO as an organizational change challenge.

Most incoming senior executives, internal or external, get off to a rocky start. 

Society for Human Resource Management research shows that 58% of senior leadership hires still struggle in their new positions after 18 months on the job. 

18 months!

Therefore, it’s crucial to plan a new chief executive’s integration carefully. 


What is the key to success? 

Success must be gained by building momentum across the whole organization.

Not by acting frenetically, but by thoughtfully choosing the speed that will help the whole organization mobilize, execute, and transform effectively. 

The incoming CEO must need to:

  • gain knowledge of board expectations,
  • understand the bench-strength of the leadership team; and,
  • appreciate the organization’s culture.

This will help the CEO understand when to gather insights, when to make fact-based decisions and when to execute at pace.


Five steps to speed up new CEO integration

In my experience, new CEOs who take the following five steps have the best chance at successful acceleration.


  1. What are your unique strengths

The characteristics that have served you well so far may not lead to success in a new role as CEO. 

Success in your new role is dependent on the ability to navigate the organization’s current cultural context and to quickly understand what the roadblocks to performance are. 

Self-awareness is crucial. The ability to reflect upon and assess your strengths and weaknesses and leadership style will enable proper planning on how to change the culture and increase performance.

Consider the following questions to help align your and the organization’s unique strengths: 

  • Why was I hired for this role; what is my differentiation?
  • What is my vision for this organization? 
  • What distinctive strengths can I leverage in this context? 
  • What might derail me within this organization?
  • How do I become more self-aware and plan for my blind spots? 
  • What do I hope my legacy will be?

 Read the 7 career-saving questions you should ask before starting a new project

  1. Build an effective influence base

External CEOs are typically brought in to drive transformational change.

Everyone is expecting change, so the new CEO’s every move is evaluated and scrutinized for meaning. 

Understanding of the formal and informal sources of influence within an organization takes time.

You need to talk to your people to get a clear view of what people love, what they hate, what they see as most broken, what gets them excited. 

As a new CEO, there will be a lot of pressure—from the board, from your leadership team, from the culture itself—for you to show up and make change happen quickly. 

Don’t fall into the trap of making big decisions too quickly—you don’t know enough to know if they are the right decisions or not. 

By getting to know the key stakeholders will help new CEOs develop a plan to build the relationships that can quickly transform influencers into advocates.

Addressing the following questions is a significant next step: 

  • How do I identify the key influencers? 
  • Where are the real influencers within the organization below my leadership team?
  • What questions should I ask key constituents to build my knowledge base?
  • How do I effectively structure a listening tour?
  • How will I structure my personal story and share my vision for the organization?


  1. Define success and priorities

Incoming CEOs typically have high-level alignment with the board and other senior executives on what constitutes success and what the priorities are. 

The new CEO needs a detailed definition of what success will look like and what needs to be addressed first. 

Taking the time to define the high-impact opportunities that impact customers, products, systems, and people is essential. 

Careful management of the first 100 days to be critical to the new CEO’s success. 

This is the time when stakes are highest for both the organization and the reputation of the incoming CEO. 

Ideally, the 100-day playbook will accelerate the new executives’ integration into their new environment, while prioritizing quick wins and longer-term, strategic capabilities.

Addressing the following questions will get CEOs started on this step: 

  • What are the performance indicators for this role?
  • How will my performance be evaluated in six months and a year? 
  • How (and from whom) will I receive feedback?
  • How will I get oriented to our markets, customers, and organization?
  • How will I get clarity on and manage board expectations? 

Read more about managing competing priorities

  1. Mobilize the top team quickly

Most often, a new CEO makes changes to the senior team. 

In 2017, 91% of S&P 500 companies indicated that the CEO change would be accompanied by additional changes at the director or senior executive levels.

Given the change agenda, new external CEOs need to develop an understanding of the senior team’s performance and quickly make decisions on how to bolster the team’s effectiveness.

Addressing the following questions will help new CEOs shape and mobilize their top teams: 

  • How will I assess my team’s baseline level of performance?
  • What are the business goals or outcomes are my team members mutually accountable for?
  • How will I determine membership on my top team?
  • What operating norms do I think are needed on this team?
  • Who will support me on the development of my team to accelerate performance?


  1. Shape the culture

Organizational culture is both a key driver of change and a barrier to execution. 

In my experience, everyday cultural strengths and liabilities have become so ingrained and automatic that they are not questioned. 

If the cultural fit between the new CEO and the organization is off, execution can feel like pushing a rope.

This challenge has been defined as Culture eating Strategy’s lunch because dysfunctional cultural habits can chew up any improvement the new CEO is trying to make. 

A major study shows that 70% of all change efforts fail to achieve their intended objectives. 

The new CEO must get up to speed quickly on the cultural values, the unwritten rules, and the practices for how work gets done in their new organization. 

Addressing the following questions will give new CEOs a cultural grounding:

  • What are the strengths and liabilities of the current culture?
  • How do I shape the culture to align with our new strategic direction?
  • How do I improve high-performing behaviours such as accountability and collaboration?
  • How can I better understand the shadow of my leadership team?
  • What is the execution effectiveness of my organization?

 Read more about culture


Newly appointed leaders are at risk of failing unless they take steps to address the speed bumps that get in the way of the organizational and personal success the CEO seeks. 

If poorly made, the initial set of decisions and actions that a new CEO makes will create unintended consequences that will be difficult to reverse. 

Therefore initial actions and decisions must be carefully planned.

An acceleration requires new CEOs to:

  • assess and develop themselves to be most effective in the new context; 
  • understand their organization’s influencers and culture, 
  • how to leverage both for success; 
  • develop a detailed and shared understanding of success and priorities; and 
  • mobilize their top team. 

Those who take the time to do so put themselves on the best path toward lasting success.

3 Reasons Your Team Misses Their Deadlines & What to Do About It

The author, Douglas Adams once said … “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

According to a 2018 PMI (Project Management Institute) report, roughly 48% of projects don’t finish on schedule.  

Imagine, nearly half of all project deadlines are missed, resulting in increased costs, unhappy customers and ruins reputations and careers.  

What to do?

Here are three reasons deadlines are missed and what you can do to keep things or track:

1. Optimistic Planning Creates Unachievable Timelines

It is very human to be overly optimistic about how long it will take to complete a task.

This is called “planning fallacy.” (A theory developed in 1977 by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky)

Imagine your last project took 16 months to complete. It’s natural to assume you can do it in less time, because now you have more knowledge and experience.

But that optimism can quickly lead to missed deadlines.

Other causes of optimistic timelines are:

      • Assuming the project will go as planned, with no issues.
      • Not understanding how long it’s taken to complete similar projects.
      • Failure to realize constraints on resource.

How to Create Realistic Timelines

The key to a more realistic schedule is to rely on analysis and data.

If you’ve completed similar projects in the past, use that data as the basis for realistic estimates. The more data you have, the more confident you can be in your estimates.

If you don’t have enough past project data to guide you, then you can use the following methods:

Method 1: Use a multi-point estimation technique

Take multiple estimates and combine them to arrive at a more realistic timeline. For example, average:

      1. The most optimistic amount of time you think it will take.
      2. The most pessimistic amount of time you think it will take.
      3. The amount of time you believe it’s most likely to take.

Method 2: Engage your team to create ‘bottom-up’ estimates

A bottom-up approach to estimating requires that you build your timeline by having team members estimating each individual task and then combining them to arrive at an overall project estimate.

This ensures tasks they may understand but you may not be aware of are not over-looked.

And, you increase employee buy-in and confidence in the schedule.

Method 3: Build in Contingencies

By building contingencies into your schedule, you can help account for known and unknown risks, which will result in a more achievable timeline. It’s typically a flat 5–10% of the project cost and/or timeline added to the schedule baseline in case something unforeseen occurs.

2. Unclear Expectations Result in Missed Deadlines

If your team is unclear on when a deadline is, how can they meet it?

Communication problems can lead to you thinking your team understood their deadline when they didn’t.

Imagine the following conversation:

You: “Can you get this back to me by Thursday, at the latest?

Team member: “Well, I don’t know. There are may be defects, if I have to correct errors, then I doubt I’ll be able to complete this before Monday.

You: “Look, unless they’re critical, just leave the bugs and focus on this. I really need it no later than Friday.

Team member: “Alright, I’ll try my best.

Based on this conversation, the boss expects the task to be completed Thursday unless there are critical defects.

The team member believes they have till Friday, unless there are critical bugs, then Monday is the drop-dead deadline.

How to Communicate Expectations Clearly

Here are three ways you can ensure your team understands their deadlines.

Method 1: Use your project management systems

If you assign work informally or inconsistently, it can be easily misunderstood, forgotten, or considered unimportant.

When you hand out assignments verbally, people can easily forget about what was discussed or misconstrue your words. For instance, if you say, “I’d like to see this by the end of the week,” a team member may see that as a request and not a hard deadline.

When their name is assigned to a task in project the end date in the system allows for no question as to when their deadline is.

Method 2: Implement feedback loops

A feedback loop, or communication loop, is a simple process for ensuring what you’ve communicated has been heard and understood.

You ask them to repeat back to you what their deadlines are. In our hypothetical conversation, imagine if the team member was asked what the agreed-upon deadline was and replied: “Friday, unless there are critical defects, then Monday.”

You would have the opportunity to clarify expectations before missed deadlines.

Method 3: Conduct check-ins

The last thing you want is to discover after the deadline was missed that there was a misunderstanding as to when it was.

By incorporating periodic check-ins into your schedule, you’re achieving three things:

    1. Creating opportunities to remind employees of a deadline.
    2. Re-communicating the importance of that deadline.
    3. Creating opportunities for team members to give you feedback to so you better understand what is going on and identify potential problems and warning signs, without having to micromanage your team.

3. Poor Time Management

If you asked people how many hours a day they spend doing productive, project-related work, what answer would they give? Assuming an 8-hour work day, they may guess 7–8 hours.

But, research shows that this is a huge overestimate.

There are coffee breaks, bathroom breaks, smoke breaks and visiting.

In an average 8-hour work day, most people only accomplish 5 hours of productive work. Much of which is multi-tasking and constant interruptions.

In reality, your team is achieving less than 50% of their time doing uninterrupted productive work each week.

If you are assuming a 35–40-hour work week, but only achieving 12.5–25 hours of work, there is no wonder there are missed deadlines!

How to Improve Employee Time Management

Here are three ways you can help your team better manage their time and become more productive:

Method 1: Reduce time wasters

Have your employees record what and how they spent their time.

By tracking their own time for a few days, your team can discover time wasters and discover bottlenecks in the process, such as the time they’re forced to sit idle while waiting for reviews or approvals.

Or time spent in unproductive or unnecessary meetings. Consider giving your employees permission to attend only the meetings they are directly impacted by and allow them to excuse themselves from the unnecessary ones.  

Method 2: Eliminate distractions and interruptions

While being connected and accessible can boost collaboration and communication among the team, it can also detract from productivity.

Every time we’re interrupted, it destroys our focus, time that could otherwise be used to meet project deadlines.   

Here are three ways you can help your team eliminate distractions and interruptions:

    1. Encourage blocking time for specific tasks.
    2. Recommend employees only check email and messages at designated times.
    3. Provide a quiet, isolated space such as an empty office for employees working on anything complex or high-priority.  

Method 3: Avoid overloading your team

You may find that your team is still over-allocated, after all you can’t completely remove emails, meetings, and other interruptions.

Even if you can help your employees achieve 30 hours of productive work a week, you’re still overloading them by assuming a 35-40-hour work week in your schedule.

When people cannot get everything done in the time allotted to them deadlines will slip.

If your team members have too much on their plates, you will need to either increase the size of the team or push out the timelines.

If some of their workload is for another project or manager, ensure everyone is aligned on what is prioritized, and work together to agree to an attainable schedule.


Missed deadlines are all too common across all industries and businesses.

If your team is one of the nearly half of project teams with missed deadlines, it’s due to one of three problems: overly optimistic estimates, unclear deadline expectations, or poor time management.

Fortunately, all three of these are avoidable.

By following the advice above, you can ensure that your team doesn’t miss another deadline from here on out.