Consider why you left your last position. No challenge? Better money elsewhere? Pinhead boss? Or perhaps you’re contemplating a departure now. Jay over at Dumb Little Man (seems overly critical to me…given his writing is sharp) performed some non-scientific analysis against what he and some colleagues considered "top 20%" employees and why they left. His findings:
Too challenged: 21%
Dead company: 21%
Other (or in addition to above): 29%
I was surprised to see money so far out in front. Certainly money is important and it’s a very quantitative method of judging ones career against peers. However, (and don’t tell my wife…), I’d accept a small reduction in pay if someone could place me in an ideal work situation / opportunity. Absolutely.
For me, an ideal situation might entail:
- Control of my own destiny. The sky is the limit. Nothing prohibiting my success except myself.
- Little / no politics; a meritocracy
- Flexible schedule-I don’t mind working some evenings and weekends but let me choose the timing. And don’t yank me across town for an ineffective meeting that could have been a 10 minute phone call.
- Strong compensation. Perhaps this compensation is tied partially to performance: bonused.
- Working with sharp, motivated, talented folks
- Learning new skills, businesses, technologies, well…things
- Not in a cubicle…so impersonal. Hey, I’m not cattle.
- Keep me in the loop on company happenings and ask my opinion. Some influence.
- Close to home. Travel does not align with raising a family right now. Telecommuting works for me.
Gee, I don’t want much, do I? Well, I’ve worked for 7 firms in 11 years so I know what I want/need. Now it’s just a matter of finding it. I’ve come to the realization this situation may not exist–at least in the traditional work world. Hmmmmm.
Why do top employees quit? I place most of the blame on managers. It’s not hard to identify someone who’s not hitting on all cylinders and to understand why–as long as managers actually listen. Help employees focus on tasks that align with talents (I strongly subscribe to this philosophy from Marcus Buckingham introduced in Now, Discover Your Strengths). Hire folks that fit in to your culture. Don’t do dumb stuff (this is a blog post in itself but the H-P privacy debacle comes to mind; spending millions on custom software when a $500 off the shelf commercial product will do the job; Enron; HealthSouth; I could go on…).
I say, "help me, help you". Get the BS out of my way and let me use my natural talents to deliver value. Don’t charge me with tasks I’m not good with. Don’t put artificial barriers in my way. Treat me like a valued friend. Grant me equity in the firm based on my performance. Point me to your best opportunities that challenge me. That’s how you’ll keep me happy–and keep me on your team.
I’ll let you know when I find my utopia.
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