Today is a somber day for me. In one year with my current organization I have lost two great employees and one less than stellar employee. Today, I've lost on of those two great employees. In talking to him this week, I've learned that the issue isn't necessarily with me, in fact, he is 'taking care of me' by ensuring that I don't lose the knowledge he has gained by running training sessions in his after hours next week with my remaining directs. Further, per his resignation letter he states the following:
Please accept this letter as official notice of my resignation. Over the last year, our team has gone through a number of crucial changes. We have had a lot of transition and change, not all of which has brought improvement. In the past, I felt motivated and empowered working alongside my leader and my team. My contributions were quickly recognized and rewarded. I feel that the current expectations, along with the constant restrictions, prevent me from doing my job to the best of my ability and prevent me from achieving professional growth. This creates a stressful and unhealthy work environment as well as frustrations within the entire organization. This was a very difficult decision for me as I have contributed so much to the network environment and developed personal connections with members of many teams over the past three years. ... I am thankful for all the opportunities that have been provided to me, and wish the team the best going forward in future endeavors. My last day will be September 30th.
Further, he did share with me during our last lunch together this week that he made the decision in order to spend more time with his son (he's a single father) and the new company offers him to work more frequently from home in addition to the increase in pay (though he was offered a raise just last week). The expectations and restrictions he refers to are indeed challenging as we seek to adopt more and more of the processes and procedures of our parent company who acquired us about 2 years ago.
So, in short, I'm bummed as a manager and I feel like I am failing big time in the retention department. This is made even worse as my manager is still gunning for the firing of another direct on my team. (separate thread) Though, to be honest, as my manager outlawed weekly one on ones with my directs I am not too surprised at this development. After all, it kneecapped my being able to spend more time with my best employee. That, and all of the operational issues that vied for mine and my directs' attention.
So, I guess my question is, what would you recommend for me as a recovery strategy to ensure that I don't lose any more of my capable directs?
I’m assuming by “restrictions
I’m assuming by “restrictions” that the employee is referring to strict company policies that don’t allow for a lot of creativity. Having a line of feedback and encouraging employees to share their ideas helps a lot. Sometimes a company will need to adopt tight restrictions in order to align with strategy. While it’s important to embrace feedback, it’s also important that the employees of an organization drink the koolaid and trust in the decisions made above them. I work in banking, and there are a million restrictions, and that type of work environment isn’t for everyone.
Another comment the employee made that caught my attention was “...I have contributed so much to the network environment...”. It’s a bit unusual that a letter of resignation would include accomplishments, so it sounds like the employee felt unappreciated. I don’t have enough information to know why he would feel that way, but it’s something to think about. If you think he was getting proper recognition, then maybe it just goes back to frustration with the restrictions.
How often are you able to have one on ones? It’s hard to imagine a leader discouraging another leader from meeting with their directs. I recently left a company because of the same type of culture where I did not feel empowered to lead in the way I knew was right. I certainly made the right decision, but in the process of getting to know my new boss, I’ve come to the realization that giving feedback to my manager is a great area of opportunity for me. One of the ways I’m going to work on this is by changing my language when I bring a question or suggestion to my manager. Instead of using weak language and saying something like “I think I should...” or “What do you think?” I’m going to start with “This is the issue, I believe we should do x, what do you think?”.
Sounds like you have your hands full, I hope things improve!
The value of one-on-ones
This is a big reminder of how essential consistent and weekly one-on-ones are. While there seems to be many causes, I’m willing to bet that most of them are not included in the letter or in their conversations with you. As a leader, you can help employees transition to the work environment you’re in, but it’s a challenge without weekly one-on-ones.
When you delivered the business case for weekly 1-on-1s, what was their push back?
You know Spock, if an Earth girl says, uh, "It's me, not you", it's definitely you. - Dr. Leonard McCoy (Start Trek Into Darkness)
It certainly had everything to do with an 'Earth girl'...
So the good news is that this star employee is coming back as a full time employee. In the lead up to this re-hire he finally admitted to me his true reason for leaving in the first place: The appearance of fraternization with another full time employee on staff.
Yeah, that one...
Well, this is now no longer an issue as he has since married and I have him happily back on.
Employer Needs Concentrate on Retention of Talented Workforce
Employees today are different they are not the ones who don’t have good opportunities in hand. As soon as they feel dissatisfied with the current employer or the job, they switch over to the next job. It is the responsibility of the employer to retain their best employees. If they don’t, they would be left with no good employees.