Why Your Employees are Resigning

If when you resign, your manager’s response is “Great!” you may think at first they are happy for you.  But then it dawns on you that you hadn’t got to the part where you told them why, and where you are headed.  Hum, they are just thrilled that you are leaving.  Upon further reflection, you see the joy in their face and realize this same person who just gave you a good performance rating two weeks ago, is actually happy you are resigning.

As the training guy, I can tell you that there is definitely not a single leadership training program that would encourage a manager to be visibly thrilled when an employee resigns.  It is inappropriate behavior to say the least, unprofessional, and downright sad.  And yet this happened to a friend of mine last week.

She was part of a couple of hundred employees that were part of an acquisition late last year, by a company that seems hell-bent on replacing most if not all of these employees with their choices.  In 4 months, nearly 40% of the managers have resigned.  Not a single one was terminated, they all resigned.  At the current pace they will have lost all of the management team in another 6 months.  One is left to wonder if that is the goal?

But let’s move away from the current conspiracy theory and ask if all of these resignations are not by design, and are actually not desired.  What is this new company doing that is causing so many people to jump ship?  I can answer that question in one word.  Culture.

The culture of this company is cold.  It is not focused on customer needs or employee needs, and thus they make decisions that impact the lives of both of these groups.  They have been made aware of their choices, by customers that are leaving with the same gusto as the employees.  Yet it has had no impact.  The culture says we know better what customers and employees need, and they must change to fit the culture.

I will admit that at times I have been happy when an employee has resigned.  Usually it has been a performance issue causing the disruption and a failure to change the performance.  So when the employee has resigned, I am glad the stress is over.  Yet I have always seconded guessed what I or my team could have done differently to prevent losing this talent.  And yes, even the worst employee has talent that you lose when then resign.

All managers should spend a little time finding out why someone is resigning.  When it is for a better opportunity, then support them and visibly show that support.  Don’t be an arrogant jerk and lash out.  Chances are if it was because the working conditions made them leave it was your fault.  We must always remember that employees go to work for the company, but 9 times out of 10 they resign because of their manager.  Learn from the resignation, and do better next time.


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