Lack of Career Path/No Mobility – Upper or Lateral

Part 2 of 5 in the People Leave series

Career paths and career ladders are traditional methods by which employees develop and progress within an organization. Career ladders are the progression of jobs in a particular field. Career paths can be more varied and may include career ladders or horizontal transitions. (SHRM). Whether you have a large organization where career paths and career ladders are well established and advertised or you are a small, growing company that wants to retain top performers, it’s important to identify the talent you have and why people work at your organization. People – even your top performers – will quit. Why they quit should never be a surprise to you (with the exception of when it’s a surprise to them, i.e., sudden life change, move, etc.).     

It’s not uncommon for people to leave their jobs because they believe there is no career path or ladder for them when in fact:

  • They’ve waited for a year for their performance review and weren’t offered a growth opportunity
  • Their manager has no idea that they’re not happy in their role or in their team
  • They don’t know (or buy into) the company’s vision or strategy for the future nor see how they can be a part of it

What you can do:

  • Have regular one on ones with your team.  What conversations are you saving for the annual (and dreaded) performance review?  
  • Check-in with people.  Are you dealing with someone with a risk-averse communication style who won’t speak up?
  • Speak often about the path forward with your team. Do your team members understand how their job fits into the big picture? Bonus points if you’re encouraging them to use their most natural talents in their current and future jobs.

The Problematic Manager

Part 1 of 5 in the People Leave series

You can tell if a manager is effective by observing their team’s performance and cohesion. An effective manager knows their team members’ strengths and challenges relative to their jobs.  They can anticipate when to guide and how much guidance to provide. They understand that a team’s cohesion will depend on allowing people to do what they do best.  They know who is happy, who isn’t (and why). They communicate clearly about a path forward, providing their team members a vision for the future. 

In Gallup’s  2015 State of the American Manager report*, one out of every two professionals surveyed said they had quit a job at some point in their career to “get away” from their boss. But problematic managers aren’t always the villains. Some common situations I see are:

  • A top performer is rewarded with a promotion and finds that their natural talents aren’t a match for key requirements of the new job
  • The new manager is given more responsibility without the resources and support they need to do their job well
  • The new manager wants to make a good impression and won’t admit to being challenged

What you can do:

  • Take the time to evaluate the fit of the manager – if they’re not a good fit, how can you provide support to grow the skills needed for top performance?
  • Is the manager feeling overwhelmed?  What additional support and resources can you offer to help them succeed?
  • Have weekly or bi-weekly one on one meetings with the manager and focus on opening the lines of communication with them to identify areas where you can offer support and coaching.  Are you speaking their language?

*Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager Report can be viewed here.

People Leave

A 5 part series about what you can do to prepare for the inevitable.

One quick google search about “why people quit their jobs” generated 194,000,000 results. People leave their jobs for many reasons. This series is not about keeping people from leaving your company. It’s about the policies and strategies every company should have in place to weather the inevitable. People leave. Why they leave should never be a surprise to you with one exception: when it’s a surprise to them.

In this series, we will be discussing the most common reasons why people quit their jobs. Every single one of my clients has lost key employees for every single one of these reasons.

  • The problematic manager
  • Lack of career path/No mobility – upper or lateral
  • Disengagement (the grass is greener…)
  • The Bad Apple
  • Money (or is it?)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of March 2019 there was 0.8 unemployed person for every job opening. In 2019, 68% of HR professionals report problems filling positions – up from 50% in 2013. Voluntary quits have increased.

Before you can prepare for the inevitable, it’s important to look at your current landscape relative to talent acquisition and engagement.

Hiring Process – does your hiring process really help you identify the best talent matches for your jobs? Your hiring process should make identifying the best match easier. In my experience organizations who have a hiring process and stick to it are more successful in filling their open roles with candidates whose talent best matches the role.

Job Descriptions – from my experience many organizations write exhaustive job descriptions that can only be mastered by a superhero. These 3-4 page documents are typically used in the recruiting process and then are rarely looked at again. Are your requirements realistic?

ATS – 90% of the Fortune 500 rely on an Applicant Tracking System that screens resumes based on keywords. If you’re not clear on the talent required to perform the job, an ATS won’t help you.

Employee Engagement – do you have an engagement strategy that makes people feel valued? I’m not talking about ping pong tables, free snacks or the state of the art espresso machine. Do you know if your staff is happy or not and why? If you don’t how will you know how to engage them?

Follow along as we discuss five common reasons people quit their jobs and what you can do to be prepared for each scenario. Join us next week when we’ll address The Problematic Manager.

Are your interview questions revealing the talent you seek?

Most organizations large enough to have in house recruiters and an HR department have a hiring process.  That hiring process will include a resume screening, phone screening and a series of interviews.

Once the candidate “passes” the recruiter’s or HR’s screening they will most likely be interviewed by the manager they would report to and maybe the team members they would be working with. Although these individuals may be top performers in their roles they often dread hiring and all that it entails. All they want to do is get the position filled and go back to doing their own jobs. So in an effort to get to know the candidate, they’ll ask a series of hypothetical questions like “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”.

Consider that a candidate’s behavior in a job interview is similar to how they would behave on a first date. They’ll be on their best behavior and adapt to the situation and the interviewer in order to make a good impression. But in order to discover if a candidate is a match to the job, interview questions must reveal if the candidate possesses the talents that are required for top performance in that job. Of course, there are several characteristics which we would all agree are necessary in any job such as being a self-starter, having a sense of personal accountability or being able to work with a team, but there are specific talent traits that will be essential to a specific job.

A thorough job interview will include both generic and job specific questions.  Whether your hiring process includes 1, 2 or more interviews, those interviews should include:

General questions:

  • Why did they leave each job on their resume?  The answers to this question can reveal a trend.   
  • Why do they want to work for your company? This will reveal how much they researched about your company and thought about why this job is attractive to them.

Job specific questions.   Let’s say you’re interviewing someone for a sales role, you might ask:

  • Behavioral questions about their achievements in their previous role(s).  The key is to start the question with: “give me an example of when…” These questions make the candidate think about specific instances of when they accomplished something.  
  • Ask questions about examples of when they failed at something pertinent to the role they’re applying for.
  • What are the candidate’s goals relative to this job.  How can this job get them to where they want to go?

Job specific questions should be crafted in advance. Think about what success in the job looks like and then create questions that will reveal if the candidate has the talent traits required. So let’s say the sales role you’re filling typically has a long sales cycle and success in the role often requires strategic thinking. You might ask:  “Give me an example of when you’ve developed and applied a successful sales strategy in selling a product with a long sales cycle.” “How long was that sales cycle?”  “What did you learn from your success/failure?”

In my experience, using an assessment to help craft these questions brings an elevated level of discussion to the interview and helps the hiring manager get to know the candidate on a deeper level.

If you’d like to learn more about using assessment to help craft these questions that will help you see the true candidate, instead of the first date version, let’s talk!