Many years ago, I had one of those days that leaders dread – one of the top performers on my team told me she was leaving the organization. At that moment, not only was I profoundly disappointed, I was also shocked. She had a competitive base salary, was earning strong commissions from hitting her sales goals, and seemed to get along well and her colleagues and me. I kept asking myself, “What went wrong?”
With employee turnover at an all-time high, many leaders are experiencing the loss of team members due to the Great Resignation. If you’re like I was, you’re searching for answers as to why this happened, and, more importantly, how to keep it from happening again.
At Ecsell Institute, we recently sought to identify team members at risk of leaving their organization by pouring through data from our Coaching Effect Survey. With results from hundreds of employees across a myriad of industries, we found three common warning signs that indicate team members are likely on the cusp of leaving:
- They don’t feel like they’re developing or growing in their role.
- They feel like communication has been unclear or insufficient.
- They believe that follow-through and accountability is inconsistent.
(Learn more about the warning signs by downloading a recent EcSell Institute white paper, How We End the Great Resignation.)
When our executive director of research shared these warning signs with me, they immediately brought to mind that top performer who had left my team years ago. Although we were compensating her well, we weren’t offering her a path toward more responsibility. Even worse, I viewed her as a future manager for our organization, but I hadn’t even asked her about her own career goals. Moreover, the organization had been going through a lot of change –- my communication about our shifting priorities, as well as driving accountability for them, could generously be described as “lacking.”
I finally understood what likely caused her to leave. I had wrongly assumed that providing good compensation and a friendly work environment was enough for employee retention. While those things are important, what she additionally needed in order to stick around was clarity and confidence about where we were headed as an organization and how her personal growth goals could be achieved as the company grew.
The good news is that, in addition to identifying the warning signs that someone is at high risk for resignation, our research also provides some clear insights on what leaders can do to prevent that from happening. They are:
- Provide opportunities for growth and development.
- Be consistent and dependable in their leadership.
- Be open and engaged with their team members.
These things are, of course, easier said than done. We have a white paper that lays out an action plan for how to execute these three things well. So I hope you learn from my past mistake, pay attention to the warning signs that one of your team members might be at risk for leaving, and get proactive in taking steps to prevent the Great Resignation from hitting your team.