Have you ever heard someone say, “This is business, don’t take it personal!” That phrase is not true. I understand the person is trying to imply, “I’m not trying to hurt you directly, but this is what is best for me or the business.” That phrase could be said to an employee when their comp plan is getting lowered, changing an employee’s job duty, or when someone must be laid off. But lately, I’ve heard this phrase in my head each time an employee resigns from my company to take another job elsewhere. And each time, my heart fights back with saying “No, it is personal for me! " I want to fight for the person to stay. The company invested so much time into him or her. Why does it hurt so much to lose great employees? I hope these reasons below help.
Losing a great employee is a devastating blow because a leader has invested tons of time into him or her. You hired the employee to make your team stronger. You saw potential in his of her abilities. As a leader, you have trained this employee, taken time to do 1:1 coaching, helped him or her learn from their mistakes, and now this person is leaving with all that knowledge where it will be used at another company. It makes sense why losing great people hurts because you have invested hours, months, and years into this person. How do you move forward knowing that others might leave too after you invest so much? A good leader pours time into their people because they want their team to be the best under their leadership. You hope the employee won’t leave but someone will and that shouldn't stop you from being the best leader possible. Does it hurt? Like a mickey fickey! However, a great leader will do everything possible to invest into the employee’s growth because they are under your leadership till they chose another place of work.
I have often heard the words “I spend more time with the people at work than my own family/friends.” It is very true, well at least in the old days when we worked in the office five days a week. Today, it might not be true. Either way, you are going to battle each day to accomplish new goals and that often creates friendship. You are doing life together. When an employee says he or she is leaving for another company, it does feel like a rejection. Why? A good boss is understanding and caring to each employee’s personal life. This means getting to know their kids, spouses, significant other, etc. You have taken time to support the employee and their family during the hardest moments and hopefully that employee has done the same for you. Now, you are parting ways because the employee wants more money, a career change, etc. This stings the heart bad because it was not just business but a personal relationship and friendship.
Employees leaving also creates a lack of trust in the leader’s mind. What did I do? What didn't I do? Perhaps a leader can feel the employee leaving doesn’t trust them to provide a solution to their need/want. I feel it each time someone leaves me for a new company. Why didn’t the employee give me more time to solve the problem? It feels like a lack of trust. Some employees make judgement without knowing the facts. That again is a lack of trust. Another concern, when did the employee look for the new job? Was it during the hours when I paid them? Why didn't the employee come talk to me about their issues? Often a good leader says to an employee “Please be honest with me if you are looking for a new job. It helps me understand what and why you are needing it. I will try to fix the problem if possible. Let me know what it will take for you to stay.” If trust is established, then the employee will have the conversation with you. However, sometimes a leader is not given that option.
Leaders take pride in trying to offer a great place for employees to work. I know I do. It was my whole reason to become a President. I wanted operational control to help show my business’s commitment and support to each employee. I honestly feel we have done a great job as a team to show support to each staff member and their famililes. Losing great people hurts because they weren't a number. They were a great employee that you valued. When a great employee is taking a new job, my heart sinks because that means I failed the employee, or they would still be at my company. Even if that staff member didn’t report to me, I still feel like I failed as the head of the company. I ask myself this question each time “How did I not know what was going on with this employee? Why wasn’t I told?” As a people pleaser, this is probably magnified in my heart more than others. I understand that some employees are leaving not on bad terms but because they want a change. Again, not every need can be fulfilled. In some cases, you can’t offer a job that fits the employees desire.
In conclusion, I am writing this because my heart is heavy during the “great resignation” period I am experiencing right now. We have lost several great employees that have been with our company for a long time. I have spoken to other leaders, and they too are feeling heavy about their staff leaving. It’s never easy losing great people and I hope every employee understands how much it hurts when a leader does.
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