Losing the Best Employees!

More Scary HR Issues to Haunt Your Dreams

I recently connected with a former employee I hadn’t seen in about 4 years. She reached out to me to tell me she happened upon our new Tech People Resources website and extend her congratulations. It turned out we were going to be attending the same upcoming conference so I suggested we meet up for dinner while to catch up while there. She agreed and said she had been promoted to a Director role and had a lot to tell me.

As leaders, we can sometimes feel like we don’t make anyone happy so it’s always gratifying when former employees reach out long after you worked with them. This former employee, and now fellow leader, began to tell me about her experience since her promotion. It was not good. Now I’m a pretty tough judge of character, and as a leader, my expectations are pretty high when it comes to my team, but I was not at all surprised that she had been promoted to a high-level leadership position. Obviously, someone else saw what I saw. However, there she was, this incredibly capable, hard-working, logical, and above all else, ethical person, feeling alone in her desire to succeed, and ready to give up and move on.

Baffled that anyone would take such a high-performer for granted, I wanted to know how this could happen. As we talked, I asked her questions to see if I could figure it out. What I quickly realized it that she was a victim of a very common scenario. One which you have likely seen or experienced yourself. I’m referring to the common mistake of plucking a high-performer from their regular job, and inserting them into a leadership position. I’m not at all saying high-performers shouldn’t be promoted into leadership, but what I am saying is that often times, in these instances, the newly appointed leader is not given the support and direction needed to succeed. Just because a person is great at their job, doesn’t mean they can automatically lead others in similar positions.

Let me give you an example. In my conversation with my former employee and friend, I found that she was promoted into a Director position in which she now leads her former co-workers. This can be incredibly difficult on the new leader and the team. Feelings of resentment and jealousy from former co-workers can create a tumultuous environment from the get-go, as often times they too had hoped to receive the promotion. In this case, rumors swirled regarding how she got the position, and her new team undermined her regularly. As stressful as situations like this may be, all of these things can be overcome, but only with support. This is what I found was lacking in my friend’s situation.

I asked her about her boss and how he supported her. She said she had a good relationship with him, but that she could never seem to get enough time with him to discuss her concerns. Most times, he cancelled their one on one meetings, and she rarely got any uninterrupted time to meet with him. She was concerned because she hadn’t gotten any HR or organizational leadership training. She also wasn’t clear on what his goals for her were. She had even experienced difficulty getting IT access to the reports and files she needed to do her new job. She was so stressed that she had begun looking up leadership and HR information on the internet so she could get some guidance, which is where she found our TPR website. As bad as all of this sounds, it’s one of the most common things we see in organizations.

One of the reasons it’s so common is that the intention is almost never malicious. As leaders, our time is stretched so thin that it’s hard to make time to give employees our undivided attention. However, as leaders, it’s one of our basic job functions to do just that. If we don’t, we are failing them, and subsequently our entire team, our organization, and ourselves. We must invest time in those who report to us. Often times, with all we are expected to do, it feels like an afterthought. We squeeze in a quick conversation here and there as time “permits”. Best intentions aside, this is an epic failure.

As leaders, we must invest time in our employees; especially those who are new leaders below us. We are responsible for their success. Letting them fend for themselves is not acceptable. Even the most capable new leaders need the support of their boss. In my friend’s situation, the majority of her stress could be easily eliminated with the following examples of support from her boss:

  • Clearly defined goals and expectations

  • Consistent communication:

    • Commitment to scheduled one on one meetings

    • Uninterrupted meeting time

    • Regular feedback and follow-up

  • Ensure equipment and access needs are met

  • Display of support:

    •    Initial meeting with her team and her

    •    Reiterate his confidence in her abilities

    •    Discuss his expectation that her new team work with her cooperatively

    •   Convey a zero tolerance for rumors and/or gossip

  • Connect her with substantial leadership training and coaching


These simple things go a long way to show your employees support. Remember, YOU are responsible to set them up for success. Don’t unintentionally fail them. It will cost you one of the greatest assets a leader can have- great employees! Motivated, smart, capable, hard-working team members are a gift. Treat them as such. For help, reach out to us via our Techpeopleresources.com contact page, by phone, or through any of our social media platforms which can be found on our website. We love to create unique, customized leadership training to support your organization and keep the best employees.


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