Thursday, April 30, 2015

Don't Be Confused About Why People Leave



Do you have key employees who, if you lost them, would leave such a hole in your company or team that you're not sure you could ever fill it? Do you know what would make them want to stay with you? Do you know the real reason about why they might leave?

A friend of mine started working for a startup company a few years ago. She managed the operation as the company grew from less than 50 employees to over 200. It's easy to see that she's been critical to the company's growth and financial success. She recently gave her boss two week's notice. She accepted another job and took a large pay cut. 


The Awesomeness...and the Confusion 

First, I'm happy for her because she found the courage to make this difficult decision. She had to conquer her fear that she and her husband would not be able to make ends meet. In the end, they decided the most important influencing factor was her satisfaction in the work she was doing. I want to celebrate their level of faith that fulfilling the human spirit is more important than filling the bank account. You see, they recognize they have a challenging money problem. They also recognize they're capable of finding solutions. BOOM!! (picture a fist bump explosion here)

On the other hand, I also know her boss. He's confused and never saw it coming. Why did she leave? He's concerned about how he's going to make things work, although he won't admit it. I can hear it in his voice. Meanwhile, he's doing what entrepreneurs have a tendency to do, focusing on the best solution to this complex problem. 

My concern for him is this: I'm quite sure he recognized the opportunity that's been lost for him and his company. The future value of the value she'd helped him create in just a few short years instantly turned to zero.

In his rush to fill the vacuum, has he taken the time to understand why that opportunity was lost and how he could have seen it coming? 

Was it About the Money?

When she was hire, in the early days of the company, he pitched her a value-proposition that looked like this: "I can't pay you very much right now. But, if you help me grow this company, your compensation could more than double in the next few years."

He gave her a few small raises along the way. He provided a few perks and she appreciated them. But, as the Company realized the success he envisioned, the ratio between the rewards he promised in relation to the growth and the rewards he provided were miles apart.

It's easy to think this means it was about the money. But, actually, it wasn't. She heard that initial value-proposition, she bought into it, she delivered what she promised. He delivered part of it. But, it was easy for her to see the gap and it caused her to wonder if she could trust him, especially while she watched him spend money on things the company didn't really need.

So, money was a part of the problem, but not the real root cause. It was trust. He offered her more money the minute she told him she was leaving. She turned his offer down. Nobody who takes a job that pays them less money than they're currently making does it because of the money.

Other Key Factors

My two friends think in different ways. 

She knows that you can't make everyone happy so the best you can do is build a structure that creates accountability and be consistent so that people can be satisfied that they are being treated as fairly as is reasonably possible. 

He wants everyone to be happy and have fun at work. He thinks the way to do that is not create cumbersome rules and structure.

She values the personal relationship and puts it in front of the transaction.

He values the things success brings and prioritizes the transaction over the relationship.

Here's how things went down:


  • She quickly became dissatisfied when he didn't allow her to create a structure with which she could lead the staff and hold them accountable.
  • He became dissatisfied any time he recognized a gap between the things the employees on their staff did and his definition of acceptable professional behavior...a definition that was never documented and never fully communicated.
  • Her dissatisfaction turned to frustration as she watched his emotional reactions and suggested solutions which he rejected.
  • His dissatisfaction turned to frustration as he failed to solve the same problems over and over again.
  • As he continued to react to situations based on emotions, he never felt he could trust his employees.
  • Employees became confused about what they were supposed to be doing because no clear expectations were ever given. A lot of turnover in the staff resulted. 
  • She became frustrated in her efforts to create the kind of high-performance work environment he said he wanted, and she knew how to deliver, because he wouldn't allow her to create the structure needed. So, she lost trust that she would be able to lead in his company the way she envisioned she could.
  • She worked extremely long hours through the growth, the turnover, the shortage of resources, and her personal need to fulfill her responsibilities. No matter how many unplanned problems she had to help solve throughout the day, employees still needed to get their paychecks, invoices still needed to be created and sent to customers, the bills needed to be paid. She arrived at six thirty and often worked until ten at night for weeks and months at a time. He worked a normal work day.
  • He failed to recognize the gap between the value-proposition he promised and what he delivered. The loss of trust weakened the connection for her.
  • He failed to help her be the leader she really wanted to be. His lack of trust in her abilities further strained the connection.
  • He failed to recognize her efforts and to reward them in meaningful ways. It's important to say, "You're doing a great job," but there comes a point where that's just not enough. She felt her efforts were unnoticed, under-valued, and unappreciated. One day she asked herself, "Why should I continue doing this?"  The love was lost.

Could He Have Prevented it?

The simple answer is, yes. But only if he'd seen it coming. 

Could He Have Seen it Coming?

Again, yes. But, only if he was looking...and listening...only if he valued his relationships with all of his key stakeholders more than the transactions that created wealth for his company...only if he were willing and able to measure the strength of the relationship as much as he measured the bottom line.

Business success is based on the value of the transaction. 

The transaction only happens if the relationship is seen as mutually beneficial by all involved. So, which is more important? The transaction or the relationship? Which one sets the conditions for success for the other?

I know you're smart. You know the real answer.

How to Create Mutually Beneficial Relationships

  1. Create Connection- Strengthen the attraction!
    • Define your value-propositions with every key stakeholder so expectations are in alignment on all sides.
      • Employees as well as customers as well as vendors....
  2. Create Trust- Strengthen the bonds of connection!
    • Build the structure that creates accountability.
    • Engage key stakeholders so they can help you identify your greatest opportunities for Innovation, Growth, and Profits.
      • See what they see.
      • Listen!
  3. Create Love- Help them to love working for you!
    • Deliver what is promised. 
    • Be honest when you can't and about why.
    • Show you're willing to do the work to fill the gap.
I use a system I call GPS Theory to create meaningful and lasting mutually beneficial relationships. The system is based on the principles of Connection, Trust, and Love and has allowed me to expand my definition of success so I can create values-driven success for the people with whom I love to spend my personal and professional time! The magic happens for me because I create if for others. I'm able to create if for other because they help me see what I need to see instead of what I want to see. This helps me actually meet their needs instead of trying to convince them that what I'm giving them does. It works in every personal, professional, and organizational situation. My clients see it this way too!

How do you ensure you're creating mutually beneficial relationships based on Connection, Trust, and Love? 

My friend, Peter Beaumont, from ConnXN, and author of The Relationship Roadmap, just published an article on building trust with customers. He's a relationship expert so you may want to check it out.



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom Eakin is the author of Finding Success and the Success Engineer at BoomLife. LEARN MORE ABOUT TOM...