Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door

Larry Bonfante, Founder, CIO Bench Coach | 1/14/2013 | 32 comments

Larry Bonfante
Studies have shown that one of our most pressing issues in the US economy is a lack of skilled workers to fill key positions in our organizations.

It's ironic that during a time of 8 percent unemployment that many jobs remain unfilled due to a lack of competent individuals. This is even more true in the world of IT where many young people have been turned off to careers in IT under the notion that the only places that technology workers get hired are Mumbai and Moscow.

Given the reality of how challenging it is to find talented workers, it is more critical than ever to retain the excellent team members who are adding value to our organizations. However, more and more people are becoming restless and looking for an upturn in the economy so that they can bolt from their current positions. Why is that? What can we do about it?

First of all, it is always a mistake to look at human beings as part of a market in the same way that we think of real estate. I'm sure you've heard of buyer's and seller's markets in real estate. Well, many companies use this short-sighted mentality when dealing with their most valuable asset, their people. They think that with a bad economy, there aren't a lot of great options for people. So they can treat them any way they want since they aren't going anywhere.

Can you imagine any relationship where this approach would work? Imagine thinking, "My wife is stuck with me. She can't really wiggle out of this marriage thing too easily so I can ignore her needs and treat her like furniture!" How long do you think it would be before you received a call from a divorce lawyer? Yet many companies treat employees this way. It's no wonder that there is a pent-up desire for people to run out of their companies as soon as the first viable opportunity presents itself.

Study after study has also shown that the No. 1 reason most people leave their current job is their direct manager. Do your people work for you because they have no other choice? Do you treat them like valued assets and make sure that they are part of the decision-making process? Or do you treat them like mushrooms, keeping them in the dark and piling manure on them? How much do you invest in terms of time, money, and effort to help them develop their skills and grow as professionals?

As a manager, I believe I owe my people more than a paycheck every two weeks. I owe them an opportunity to grow, learn, and flex their muscles. Are you giving people stretch assignments and new opportunities to contribute and learn, or can they do their jobs on auto pilot?

Finally, do you recognize and reward your people for their contributions, or do you take the credit for the team's success? Every human being has a desire to be appreciated and recognized. Are you taking the time to ensure that your people feel valued or do you take all the bows when things go well?

Some of you may feel that this is all "touchy feely stuff." All I can tell you is that in the more than 10 years I've been CIO at the USTA, I've only lost two employees who I wanted to retain. One was offered a 50 percent salary increase (based upon skills he learned while on the job), and one took a job closer to home (he spent seven years working for us commuting two hours each way). You can call it whatever you want, but all I know is that we've been fortunate enough to keep excellent people motivated and a part of what is an outstanding team.

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nasimson   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/27/2013 1:07:14 PM
Re: depends
@singlemud: I didn't quite catch your point. Can you please elaborate a little on it?

nasimson   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/27/2013 12:57:30 PM
Re: Still walking after all these years
Yes you are right. Branham's research shows that more than 80% of workers feel they do not use their strengths every day. That can be very frustrating for the employee, and counterproductive for the employer. Identify your strengths before the interview. Ask questions to uncover whether your strengths will be utilized. If not, you will perform below your potential and enjoy the work less.
nasimson   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/27/2013 12:54:07 PM
Slow growth
Too few growth and advancement opportunites maybe. Even in a flat organization, employees who perform well should be able to achieve career growth, recognition, and self-satisfaction. Often, an employee leaves quickly because he/she can't see what her career path looks like, or because expectations are unrealistic. It takes about twice as long to earn a promotion than most new employees expect.
Pubudu   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/20/2013 11:32:45 PM
Re: Still walking after all these years
Great thoughts, What I feel is one of the main reason  is to walking out the best talent is lack of superior's "people skill', As a superior we should know how to appreciate and what are the motivation factor of a particular person for motivations.  If those is in a line we will be able to get the maximum out of them.
singlemud   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/18/2013 9:11:36 PM
Quots :"All I can tell you is that in the more than 10 years I've been CIO at the USTA, I've only lost two employees who I wanted to retain". The catch is most employee in the company is replaceable easily. So most people are not they want to retain.
Taimoor Zubair   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/17/2013 1:15:18 PM
Sometimes the toughest question has the simplest answer
First i would stronlgy appreciate you for coming up with this great article. This issue has been on my mind for a long time now.  Most of the employees i know hate their direct manager and that really is a coomon reason for finding a way out of a job as i know from past expereince with many friends. This couldn't be more true.
What could be done to improve the situation? How can you root out an attitude that cannot be punished by law?
At the same time i remember talking to a friend of mine whose boss was on good terms with him and as a result 'earned his loyalty' as he put it. In rare instances such as these, not only you find the employees satisfied with the working conditions but also willing to stay with the companies for a long time unlike the unsatisfied employees who're on lookout for another job to get rid of their 'bad boss' as soon as possible.
freespiritny25   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/16/2013 1:51:20 PM
Re: People not cogs

If the employees were treated decently and receive some perks, companies would have a higher retention rate of their employees. You will get more work out of your staff when they are working because they want to be there, not because you think they can't find anything else. We are all human and want to know that our talent is wanted. Poor treatment and no works are a recipe for having a revolving door of workers.
freespiritny25   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/16/2013 1:47:44 PM
Re: Re : Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door
@impactnow, I agree. Employers think that the desire to maintain a job in this tough fiscal time is enough to hold you in your position, despite a reduction in salary and an increase in your workload. They know this is not necessarily the wisest time to look into switching jobs, so they aren't concern that ill-treatment and unrealistic demands is going to cause you to walk out the door. 
freespiritny25   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/16/2013 1:44:23 PM
Re: Still walking after all these years
Thanks for sharing your managerial techniques when it pertains to this topic. I hope that your employees really appreciate you. You may have found the secret to a successful company.
freespiritny25   Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door   1/16/2013 1:42:14 PM
Re: Re : Why Your Best Talent Is Walking out the Door
@Anand, You are right. Social skills can go a long way and get you far. Having positive social skills is not always a part of one's natural make-up. Sometimes, it is  a learned behavior.
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