Bad mistakes that make good employees leave, by Travis Bradberry. When employers makes easily-avoided mistakes the best employees are the first to go, because they have the most options. Good employees must stay engaged, but a third feel disengaged and are looking for a new job. Their interest is not sudden, but engagement slowly dissipates. Star employees slowly lose their fire for their jobs. Michael Kiber, who has spent much of his career studying this phenomenon, says employees “seem to be performing fine, putting in massive hours, grinding out work while contributing to teams, and saying all the right things in meetings. However, they are in a silent state of continual overwhelm, and the predictable consequence is disengagement.”
The following practices are the worst offenders:
They make a lot of stupid rules. Some rules are needed, but they don’t have to be shortsighted and lazy attempts at creating order – like an overzealous attendance policy or taking employee’s frequent flier miles. When employees think big brother is watching, they find somewhere else to work.
They treat everyone equally. This isn’t elementary school. This shows top employees that no matter how high they perform (and top employees are typically the work horses), they will be treated the same as the bozo who does nothing but punch the clock, make loud personal phone calls, and sleeps at their desk.
They tolerate poor performance. When you permit weak links to exist without consequence, they drag everyone else down – especially your top performers.
They don’t recognize accomplishments. It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Rewarding individual accomplishments shows that you’re paying attention. Managers make them feel good (for some it’s a raise, for others it’s public recognition) and then reward them for a job well done. For top performers this will happen often if you’re doing it right.
They don’t care about people. More than half the people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationships with their boss. Smart companies make sure their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate their employees’ successes, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge them even when it hurts. Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. This is not a problem for me right now.
They don’t show people the big picture. Work must have a purpose, and when employees don’t know what it is they feel alienated and aimless – and find purpose elsewhere. Also not a problem where I work.
They don’t let people pursue their passions. Talented employees are passionate. Providing opportunities for them to pursue their passions improves their productivity and job satisfaction, but many managers want their employees to work within a little box. These managers fear productivity will decline if employees are allowed to expand their focus and pursue their passions. This fear is unfounded. Studies show people who are able to pursue their passions at work experience flow, a euphoric state of mind that is five times more productive than the norm.
They don’t make things fun. People don’t give their all if they aren’t having fun, and fun is a major protector against burnout. If work is fun employees will stick around for longer hours and an even longer career.
NOTE: while my company gets a lots of things right, they are far from perfect. Some people are too busy and focused on pleasing their own superiors to have time to focus on some of the points above.