Why do great employees quit? It is difficult to define all the characteristics of what makes a talented employee a “superstar”, but every manager knows at least one remarkable person who has been an agent of positive change.
Like hitting the right tumblers in a lock, these individuals seem to fit well and become a key player in the success of the organization. Their presence is viewed as a turning point on many different fronts, one that is often sorely needed to help the team move forward. Not only do they have a strong character, but they bring their A game every day. They are the celebrity workers of the corporate world, recognized as such by their coworkers and competitors alike.
Outstanding managers who have several such workers at one time should consider this a testament to their own skill, because only great leaders create an environment that attracts this level of talent.
Superstars surpass management’s expectations of a merely valuable worker — they are by definition those who execute their job well, are dependable, hard-working and honest.
Talented employees go beyond being reliable and responsible; they are driven, self-managed and intelligent leaders who find creative solutions to problems. These individuals not only know their job, but they have a firm grasp of the market and industry as well. Not only do they usually have solid experience and work history, but they present well to customers, fit the culture, and are upbeat about the company and its future. Their dedication and ambition are focused on the best interests of the organization, and their excitement and enthusiasm is often contagious.
In a word, they are passionate.
Unfortunately, sometimes superstars leave an organization. But why?
Human Resource professionals will tell you numerous reasons why such people quit, citing everything from stress to being overworked, but the number one reason talented employees leave is that they don’t feel valued.
The concept of value drives superstars, from being able to create it in an organization to receiving it in return. These individuals seek out situations where they can exercise their skills and where their accomplishments will be recognized and rewarded.
A corporate bureaucracy full of senseless rules makes people feel like a cog in a machine, where they have no voice in the success or failure of the organization. Feeling trapped in such a bureaucracy, passionate employees become frustrated and believe that their efforts and talents are being wasted.
This is when they begin shopping their resume for a position elsewhere. In most cases, they already have job offers from competitors because their reputation is readily known in the industry. It is easier for superstars to quit.
Shortsighted leaders cling to the “golden handcuffs” school of thought, the idea that paying slightly above average for the market will keep good people from jumping ship, because everyone is all about collecting a paycheck. They simply cannot accept that some workers will quit for a better situation that pays less, or they believe they can buy them back with more money once the employee becomes disillusioned and accepts another offer.
Such leaders fail to understand that talented employees do not view the number on their paycheck as only dollars in their bank account, they also see it as a measure of their worth to the organization.
Passion in All Things, Including Coworkers
For passionate workers, doing what they love is part of the reward. In this light, a small, incremental raise may be an insult, like bones tossed their way to keep them from leaving instead of making pay directly related to measurable performance based on realistic and achievable goals. Passionate people desire to challenge themselves and receive acknowledgment and rewards for a job well done.
Talented employees are secure in their skills as well as their performance and want to work with others who are also enthusiastic because this situation creates an environment where they can do great things.
Good leaders who want to attract such talent would be wise to remove the dead weight of their organization, and protect the environment from becoming toxic. If poor workers can continue unchecked, it sends a negative message about the expectation of excellence within the organization. What behavior is tolerated often becomes viewed as acceptable.
It should be no surprise that one of the top ten reasons cited by talented workers who left their employers was the failure of management to correct glaring “problem” employees.
Managers who want to retain the best and the brightest would be wise to provide a nurturing environment that fosters the creative process and not only rewards employees, but values them as well.