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August 2006
How Employers Lose Their Best People...

by Susan Reynolds

This can't possibly be intentional. Management hires what they expect will be an appropriate addition to the team. They train this employee, teaching not only the requirements of the job as a function, but also the inner workings of the organization itself. They expose the employee to customers, vendors, and co-workers, maybe even key financial relationships. The employee gains tremendous knowledge specific to the company and how it works, with all the ups and downs of the organization. Years and years, and thousands upon thousands of dollars go by. One day the employee says to himself or herself, "I've got to get out of here… I'm not growing. My ideas are not being considered. I haven't had a performance review in ages. I'm not recognized or appreciated. I'm not being paid what I know I'm worth. There's no consideration given to the dramatic amount of money I'm saving for the company." And thus the company loses another top performer. Only the mediocre employees stick around. What a waste of money and time! Does this sound familiar?

The problem can fixed from the top. (It probably also started there.) Many organizational managers have found themselves in leadership roles quite by accident. They were top performers on a technical level themselves, and either became supervisors by promotion or by ownership. This does not make them inherently good and productive managers of people. Put corrective action in place!

Make sure the organization has a solid set of job descriptions for all roles in the company, including the top positions. Make sure that performance appraisals are performed on a regular scheduled basis, not just when someone begs for a raise. Document performance carefully, both positive and negative. Be creative, fair, and ethical with rewards and punishment. Not all rewards cost money! People measure success in a variety of ways: growth, environment, and satisfaction. Do you know what motivates your people? Indeed, they may measure success in entirely different ways than expected. Be systematic and organized in communicating with your people. Know the parameters of fair compensation in the marketplace.

Managers need to take a hard look at themselves and their company processes when hoping to retain the best people. The "human assets" are probably one of the most expensive budget items in the operation of the business. Don't invest in them, only to lose that investment through lack of management disciplines. Don't grow 'em, only to throw 'em, away…

Susan Reynolds is a senior partner at Newmarket Careers in Santa Clarita, a job search and career strategy firm geared toward managerial, executive, and senior level professional careers. She can be reached at or 661-755-3308.

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What Job Searchers Can Learn from Olympic Athletes . . .

New Year's Resolution: Get a Fit Career!

Interviewing to Win an Offer

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