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  • Writer's pictureMike Bensi

Why You Shouldn't be Surprised When Your Employee Quits

Back in my day - is a statement that I'm finding myself saying way too often lately. But, back in my day, I managed a small team. And one day, one of those team members sent me an email with the subject line "Can we talk?" It was early on a Monday morning, so while I didn't know what was on her mind, I somehow knew that she needed to talk.

She sat me down and shared that she made the decision to leave our team and take a different role. In the moment, I was caught off guard and didn't see this conversation coming. I couldn't piece together the reason why she would leave. Her performance was great. She received the annual performance increase a few months prior. I even remembered her birthday the previous month.

It wasn't until my last meeting with her that I realized she never saw herself in that role - and didn't necessarily enjoy the work either. I was surprised and in shock again - not by what she was saying but that I hadn't really asked her about this before.

When managers have a good performer - or when we are in a spot when we just need people in seats - we can sometimes have blinders on to the reality that there are issues that exist such as:

  • The role. If you wouldn't want to do the role, then there is probably work to be done to figure out how to make it better for others or support the function differently.

  • The team. If the people they work with and around are difficult to manage, or you find that you're having to pick up the slack, then there is a burden that is passed on to your stronger performing employees.

  • Potential for growth. You may love having a small team or organization - but others may perceive that as a lack of opportunity for their own growth and development.

  • You. I know I wasn't asking about how my team member was feeling about the role before she left. And I hope I don't make that same mistake again.

The goal shouldn't be to prevent people from leaving. Rather, as a manager, your focus should be on helping ensure that neither you or your team member are surprised when it is time to leave.

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