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Why Good People Leave Jobs

by E.C.Pressler, Jr.

When Abe Anker was appointed manager of one of his bank's largest branches, he found a weak staff. He resolved to make improvements and, as turnover provided him with opportunities for change, he began trying to pull together a solid group of people who could get things done.

Now, several years later, he still has a weak staff and he wonders why the improvements he had been striving for have not happened? Why was it that his best people always seemed to be the ones who were leaving?

A study of his company's exit interview records could have provided Abe with a number of possible answers. Most company personnel departments have long realized that exit interviews are an important resource and surveys of the data gathered from these sources usually point to the same handful of reasons:

Job Dissatisfaction
This is the number one reason why good people leave. It is a catch-all term but, if people are unhappy, feel undervalued or unappreciated, they will soon leave. The reasons for this vary widely but this could be an important clue for Abe to use in determining the reasons why his best people were leaving.

Lack Of Challenge
Good people need to have their skills used and tested constantly. If challenge is missing, they will soon be missing as well. Identify good performers early, use their talents, listen to their ideas and increase their responsibilities.

Lack Of Confidence In The Company
This reason often goes hand-in-hand with the above. If the corporate culture or the company's image is not deserving of respect, good employees will soon find another, better environment.

Dissatisfaction With Co-Workers
Personality differences within the staff can cause people to leave. It is important to consider the "chemistry" of people who must work together as a team. Mixing aggressive and passive people, for example, can lead to disruptive personality clashes.

Many studies have shown that compensation is usually way down on the list of reasons why good people leave. If the only right thing in a person's job is the pay received, no amount of money will keep that employee.

It is axiomatic that high turnover comes from poor management: the obvious corollary is that low turnover is the result of good management.

Gene Pressler, one of HOTLINE'S advisors, is now retired from his position as a senior personnel officer for a large eastern bank. He is a regular contributor and expert advisor on personnel matters.

Copyright © 1991 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 2, No. 10, 11/91

First published on 11/01/1991

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