Clarity is key. Alignment is incredible power to drive excellence and high performance in the organization. Read more about what happens when these two essential elements of high performance are missing.
An effective leader inspires and motivates others, displays high integrity and honesty, solves problems and analyzes issues, and drives for results.
Yes, we tend to think that organizations will remain functional regardless if one or more of the employees decide to leave, even if that individual is one of the highest performers, and it’s true. Organizations do continue functioning. I mean, we don’t see Apple’s stocks sink if one of their technical support team members who happens to be working somewhere in Asia or Africa or even the States for that matter decides to leave, right? Well, it depends. Imagine this, what happens if this employee leaves behind a gap that the organization doesn’t fill good enough, soon enough, and before we know it, other high performers start leaving as well!
No doubt a repel effect at one point will be noticed, eventually customers may start searching for an alternative, something that many businesses would hate to see.
Now, take this case and apply it at higher levels in the organization, where someone at headquarters drops the ball and leaves, what happens? We know, firefighting begins to mitigate the impact resulting from that person leaving, quickly searching for the best fit replacement at that point in time, a decision that may not necessarily be the best given the circumstances, even if there’s a proper career path planning in place and the successors are already known for higher ranking leadership positions, the fact that a highly performing employee departs, certainly has it’s after shock impact!
Not a fun position many organizations like to be in.
Let’s stop here for a minute and think, why do highly performing employees leave in the first place? Is it about their wages, compensations or benefits that make them decide to move on with their lives away from the organization?
Here are some scenarios as to why highly performing employees leave:
1. Stephanie decided to leave her position as Customer Experience Specialist when she realized that her vision for the business is not the same as her manager’s. She felt lonely, and not participating in building something beautiful (the unit), she felt she’s running a long marathon all on her own.
Stephanie took the decision when she realized that her focus is on making a long-term difference, and found out that her management is focused on the transaction rather than the long-term impact of the transaction!
She thinks there’s no more room for her to grow where she is now, and wants to look for a place she can to grow elsewhere.
What to do about this? Do you change the organization’s vision to satisfy Stephanie’s view of how things should be? Do you just accept what she suggests for the business?
You might want to consider some of the following best practices to help Stephanie:
– First listen to Stephanie’s ideas, thoughts and suggestions about what, how and why things should be different. When leaders give themselves a chance to listen to what goes in their employees’ minds they are become clearer about what the situation really is and how to best deal with it.
– Clarify how Stephanie’s vision can, or may not be accommodate at this point in time. Help her see, with you, what can be done now, and what can be planned for the future if any. Let’s not forget that a lot of the time it’s all about self actualization rather than the actual idea its self.
– Help her see and feel that she’s contributing to the organization’s vision and long-term planning of the department’s goals and vision by appropriately delegating some business planning activities. See how she does. If job well done then start adding some responsibilities in line with your level of authority to help prepare her for the next level. If job not done well, then coach and work with her to develop help skills in specific areas she needs more help with.
2. Alan is leaving he’s role as the Head of Regional Demand Management Division at one of North America’s fastest growing Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing companies. He thinks he is cared for less, than he cares for the business!
He feels he’s less appreciated in the workplace, and believes that he may mean more to other organizations.
Alan is not enjoying the game any more because he’s less challenged than the old days.
What do you suggest as the best approach to handle Alan’s case?
I’ve see leaders who handled such cases and others really well. In Alan’s case, one might want to clarify in the first place, why does Alan think he’s is less cared for, while he cares more for the business, and what does he mean by that. Gathering intelligent insights around why would an employee think so, is crucial for continuing the relationship and taking it to the next level.
It could be that the employee has mastered a skill set and got to level that he doesn’t feel is challenging any more and that there might be very little room for improvement for him.
It could that the employee is someone who likes and is motivated by change and variety, and now his job is more of routine than any thing else.
Clearly understanding how the employee thinks, what goes in his mind, and who he is a person, is key for creating a motivating environment that would not only keep performers in the organization, but actually keep them excited and motivated about what they do and keep them interested in giving more.
Sad reality is, highly performing employees don’t just leave. They are intelligent. They wait, weight their options and opportunities, then take the right move for them, leaving the organization in some kind of a limbo situation sometimes.
When highly performing employees decide to stay in a work environment that doesn’t recognize their contributions, challenges their intelligence, and helps then bring out the best in them, and helps them grow at different levels, they choose to be less, do less, and eventually leave.
During the process, their productivity might decline, and more importantly, other potential high performers lose their drive to bring about the best in them. At the same time, low performers would look at the situation and say something like: “you see, it’s no point to work as hard, just work enough to keep your job, because by end of the day, no one really cares and appreciates what you do”. Nothing can more destructive than this to any organization.
That’s when we need human leadership that drives business success and results through people.
Of the best and most effective approaches I’ve come across are the ones when organizations have a deliberate leadership in place that is vigilant of employees and their needs and knows how to take care of them so that they take care of customers.
Great leadership understands that the best investment to drive innovation and business sustainability is the one made to develop Human Capital.
What do you think leaders of today and the future need to do more of, to retain, and develop high performers?
HR & Business Management Consultant, Performance Excellence Strategist, Specializing in Leadership Development, Talent Management and Organizational Development