Losing a great employee can be a shocking experience. I’ve heard tales of wide-eyed horror and deep disappointment from managers, with long-lasting effects for their teams. This scenario plays out over and over again, like a worn, scratched record.
Sadly, saying goodbye prematurely — has become somewhat of an accepted state of affairs within organizations today.
I’m not entirely sure how this came to be. A combination of factors, such as learned-helplessness and exhaustion are likely operating. (Managers are often fighting both time and resources. Even strategy can get in the way.) Yet, sometimes we throw up our hands in defeat, before our entire arsenal of knowledge and experience has been applied. While we have solid plans concerning how to deal with the aftermath of losing a valued employee — why lose them at all?
I believe that we can empower managers to do more. Yet first, we have to take responsibility. Admit that sometimes we let great contributors slip through the cracks for our lack of foresight. The buck stops with us — those who know better — and that’s completely fine.
Taking responsibility leads to progress. Progress is of course, is what we need.
To be honest, none of this is a surprise. There are widely known indicators. For example, we’ve not resolved the engagement crisis, which of course has far-reaching effects. Most employees are still not connected with their work, which makes any of them an easy target. Engagement may be on the rise, but the numbers remain weak.
We simply have more to do.
There are noticeable gaps in the employee experience — and some live at the core of our work lives. These gaps can serve as fertile ground for improvement. Think of the impact of poor job fit or the psychological contract on employee tenure. Offering managers, those closest to employees, the tools to actively do more can contribute to a solution. What if we could detect a shift in an employee’s sentiment toward their role before they plan their exit?
We may not be able to cut every loss at the proverbial pass. After all — life does happen. However, I am convinced that we can do more.
Losing great employees is a morale busting experience.
I’m more than willing to own up and take some of that blame.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She examines the effect of Core Stability on work & work life life. A charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program since 2012 — her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.
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