What if your people want to leave your company

One of Richard Bransons most popular quotes is; “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t”. But what if you’ve trained them to be your super employees and then they tell you they want to resign / take another job?

Luckily at the moment I am in a great position to be able to hire new people and so far have had only one recent case of a great employee who asked me if he could apply for another job?

What do you do? Imagine just selecting that employee for a internal acting position for a promotion and now they tell you they want to leave, and ask if the promotion will still be available if they apply elsewhere..

 

Imagine a situation where you would be looking for a mid management position; Assistant theme park manager or assistant hotel operations manager for example. You would send it out to linkedin / facebook and any of your previous companies contacts. Say you would get an overwhelming reply; over 12 people from one of your previous companies would reply and say that they are interested.. Wow. Thats more than half of their mid management that applied for your open position.

You’d think; wow people really must be wanting to leave, what the heck is going on there?

Imagine having worked for a top hotel or theme park company. About 20 parks or hotels all over the world, highest standard and 5 star hotels. Suddenly this hospitality company that you work for starts laying people off. Top management first. 2 director positions, and 2 or 3 managers. It shook the culture to the bone, managers that people have been working with for 10+ years, announced their last day when all employees were gathered, and didn’t come to work the next day.

No warning or communication as to how this was part of a larger plan or anything. And it didnt happen just once, but 2 more time, where a few colleagues where informed to finish their day and that they would have to report to HR the next day because this was their last day.

 

It simply made almost everyone terrified for their job security and has thought me one thing.
Communicate the long term plan of the company with your people, how it will affect them, and where the company would like to see them grow.

Having this one colleague wanting to apply to a position on the same level, makes you think. What are we doing wrong, and how many more people would want to leave….

 

The only way you will find out, is to go into a conversation, ask them what they are applying for (and if they feel that you care, they will tell you honestly). And put off your manager hat for a few minutes.

  • Think as their friend, and give them advise that would be best for them. If you would be in their position would you leave their current job?
  • Ask them why they want to take this job? Is it pay, more or less responsibility. Free time, distance to home, or do they just need some change?
  • Ask them if you or the company could do anything better or different (this is not the time to convince them that the company will change anything or everything in order to keep them). See it as a learning opportunity. Often people who want to leave (if they respect you) will be the most honest about whats wrong in your company and will give you very useful feedback points.

The slowly put your managers hat back on, and see if there is a way to show this colleague, or make him realise where he has more potential / opportunity, or what he would be losing if he would move. Dont just rattle off a script saying how your company is amazing, but look at this person, and how are you as a manager or your company going to offer him something so that he will realise what he could be losing, or that this new move might not be that smart.

But you can only do this when you believe his or her move wouldnt benefit him or her. If you believe that this new opportunity would be good, support your colleagues to do what they are passionate about. I’ve heard stories about managers calling competitors and stopping promotions, or giving bad reviews just to keep employees.

You will never reach the top, or create a perfect team, if you prevent them from growing. Even if they move away from your company, they will always be a testament of how they flourished under your leadership.

So I will finish how I started, because I think it’s true and important; ¬†Support your colleagues in a way that they can leave, but they wouldn’t want to.

 

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