Why People Quit Jobs

Why people quit jobs

You've most likely heard the saying that people quit people, not the companies. I agree with one aspect of this statement - acquiring and keeping good people is leader's most important task. This being said, let's have a closer look at the reasons why people quit jobs.

Acquiring and keeping good people is leader's most important task. Share on X

Reason #1: Bad Leadership

Leadership ability is always the lid on personal and organizational effectiveness. If a person's leadership is strong, the organization's lid is high. But if it's not, then the organization is limited. One of the main reasons why people quit companies is because they've been trapped under the bad leadership for too long to tolerate it, so they finally decide to move on.

How to deal with bad leadership?

There are 2 ways how you can approach it. You can make a cut and fire a leader to create a space for a better one. Another option is to help leader to raise his or her lid and improve. Over the years I've seen companies, sport teams and governments do both and both solutions work - the approach will depend on the situation. If you have a better leader who will be a better option right now, hiring him might be your best next step. On the other side, if your existing leader has strengths needed in the company, investing in his growth might be much easier (and more affordable) solution.

What are the top expectations toward leaders?

If you're a leader who is looking to improve, here's the list of top expectations employees have for their leaders:

  • Communication - workers want their managers to take an interest in their personal lives, not just sales targets or work related results. It's important to build trusting relationships and care about your people. Leaders connect with their people and communication is a big piece of building strong connections.
  • Setting priorities and goals - having clarity around what's expected of them is extremely valuable to employees. It's also vital for their performance. Statistics are alarming - according to Gallup, only 12% of workers strongly agreed that their manager helps set work priorities. These 12 % are also much happier in their jobs.
  • Accountability - Your team is looking for same standards for all, slackers being exposed and those with great results rewarded. Fairness is important for your people. Keep in mind that what you reward is what you will have more of.

Reason #2: Lack of Advancement Opportunities

Bad leadership is not the only reason why people leave companies. According to a LinkedIn survey of more than 10,000 people who changed their jobs, 45% did so for career advancement. These are the people who saw their job as a dead end, so they chose something else.

How to deal with lack of advancement opportunities?

If your people are leaving because they are no longer challenged in their position, it's time to re-think your training and experiences your people have in their position. Secret is not in just paying them well, but also providing them with a real opportunity to grow their career.

Top ideas to create growth opportunities on your team

Here are my favorite ideas to help you create growth opportunities on your team, applicable even if you lead from the middle of organization and budget stays the same.

  • Assign your team member a project outside of his or her main area - This creates space for new experiences, skills, bigger picture perspective, more connections and ideas about future moves.
  • Encourage the person to contribute outside of workplace - Your people can teach, speak, or blog on topics of their interests. You can take it a step further - your whole team can volunteer couple hours to support local nonprofit or event.
  • Revise job descriptions according to your team member strengths - Switch the jobs between people if you know that someone else would do a better job, teach your people the importance of delegation - delegating their weaknesses in exchange for work in their strength areas.
  • Don't just train the skill, bring in training to support the growth - There's nothing wrong with the skill training and improving people's efficiency. Yet, improvement training is equally (if not more) valuable. Create a strong culture of mentoring and development.
  • Hire internally first - Eliminate the barriers to a fair and efficient internal hiring process. Know and promote talent already present in your company before looking outside.

Reason #3: Great Leadership

You might be surprised to learn that good leadership doesn't reduce employee turnover. Great leaders empower employees to take on challenging assignments with greater responsibilities, which makes them strong external job candidates. So employees quit for better opportunities elsewhere - more challenging work, better compensation, better positions, and so on. Sounds like a Catch 22, right? Only on surface. Great leaders turn these former employees (alumni) into their greatest assets while continuing developing new talent.

I had to deal with this situation as a director of a non-profit organization back in 2005. Our volunteers were unemployed people placed in our facility to do their community hours. We decided to go the extra mile for them and developed a training program to teach them basic job skills like communication, problem solving, people skills, leadership and more. We also created opportunities for them to put their knowledge into practice on a daily basis. As a result, we had great volunteers, but we also created a high volunteer turnover. We decided to continue in the same direction in spite of the high turnover rates and couple years down the road we had great support of people in jobs and local organizations.

How to deal with retention due to great leadership?

First of all, you need to accept this as a by-product of great team leadership. The question is not whether they will quit, but when and how. Pay attention to the off-boarding process. Communicate the value of the employee to the company and look for opportunities inside the company to keep the talent developed by great leadership. Seek to continue relationship even after the person decides to leave. Next, build strong relationships with your alumni. Former employees with good bosses are happy alumni and can turn to be sources of valuable information, recommendations, and business opportunities.

As you can see, leader's work is never finished. Once you develop great talent, things will change and you will need to invest in the new talent. Be willing to do your best and the boomerang effect will bring you not just satisfaction, but great network of excellent leaders.

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