The Five Deadly Sins Leading to Turnover and Apathy

Talented people leave you because they can. They have options. Startup hubs like Boston and the Silicon Valley attract the best of technical and startup talent so the options are virtually unlimited. My team and I rarely see employee’s leave companies over money. There is always another story.
i quit
Reflecting back to my blog on the war for talent ( I was thinking about some of the “rookie” mistakes I see companies make when it comes to managing their talent. Some of the attrition we see could have been prevented just by being more mindful of managing their employee’s needs and expectations.

Here are 5 key reasons people will leave you and some insight to re-claim your employee’s fidelity:

#1 Lack of Growth Opportunity
No one wants to be bored, unchallenged or underutilized, especially top performers. Not recognizing the potential upside of your team has consequences. You need to listen and understand what excites them, what they would like to contribute and what really connects them to your company. Top talent want to know that they are integral to the operations. They feed off new challenges and apprise action. If you aren’t challenging your top talent someone else will. Be mindful of creating glass ceilings over hi-potential employees

#2 Lack of Communication
Why is it that if employee’s are so important in order for a company to be successful, we sometimes fail to create opportunities for meaningful dialogue? This lack of communication inspires fear and mistrust and usually leaves employee’s scratching their head wondering what the hell is going on – are we close to our goal? Are we going to launch on-time? How will the organization change as we continue to grow and what does that mean for us?
You need to regularly connect with your employee’s. I meet with my team weekly regardless of whether I’m in Boston or California or how many emails or calls I have to return. I believe passionately that a company is vulnerable if employees don’t feel connected.

#3 Leadership Transition
When key management leaves and we treat the transition like switching out characters on a sitcom – think Bobby Draper on Mad Men, people question the stability. I know you can’t share every detail but if your VP of Engineering is leaving you need to talk to the team –and not just the engineering team. Change breeds insecurity across the organization, whether you realize it or not.
The same is true as you bring in new leadership. You need to integrate them into your culture and help your employee’s see their value – that they aren’t a threat. Take the time to really understand the mindset of your team so you can build confidence in your decisions.

#4 Lack of Autonomy
People need the room to grow, to think, and yes – to make mistakes. All roads don’t go through Rome (you’re Rome in this metaphor). Top performers especially need independence. When they feel like their actions are constantly being directed it’s almost as if their mind is being piloted by a puppeteer. It diminishes not only how they feel about you and the company, it diminished how they perceive their value to you, making them ripe for the picking. Agree on a strategy and give them the latitude to execute.

#5 Work Hard…Work Harder
Working at a start-up isn’t for the marginally motivated. We work hard, sometimes under enormous pressure. Those employees who are successful in their roles are all in – they live and breathe your company. Rewards through public recognition go a long way for those who strive. Everyone wants to feel appreciated for their efforts. If your culture doesn’t step back and recognize people it puts your team is at risk. It is surprising how far even a simple email acknowledge extra effort will go.

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