I happened to stumble upon an article the other day about how companies cannot retain their talent. It was not new, it was from 2012 actually. Looking around, I did find some more similar ones, newer that more or less agreed with the first one or added a couple of interesting outlooks on the topic. Having left from a job myself, not so long ago, I really started thinking first of all, if I can be considered as talent (that is a long-self-loathing-self-loving process that I won’t get into right now) and then, why did I leave from this company and whether or not some of the reasons the authors of the articles mentioned, really applied in my case or my colleagues/friends in current or previous jobs.
First things first, the following reasons are the ones I can confirm either through personal or friendly experience for quitting any job. These are not ordered and also they are not, thank God, a union of all the misfortunes I feel I have had through the years in various employers. And of course, this is not the list of blame for the bosses. No, most of the items can be read both ways, either active or passive, so don’t be too quick to judge before you go into the fine print…
- Failed to unleash my passions within the workplace: This has happened to me more than once. Going to an office where I actually did not want to go. An office where my passions mattered not, as long as I got the work done by the end of the day. As with every employee, you get the whole package. Keeping only the things you like is not an option if you want your employee to fill recognized and respected,
- Failed to challenge my intellect: I have been in jobs where I kind of worked in “safe mode” for most of the time. Doing something and doing it decently is not difficult for anyone. Being just another order-taking-no-questions-asked clone of your boss, is kind of easy after a while. If you don’t give me space to work and do stuff, then sooner or later, I lose interest or I find it outside the office,
- Failed to engage my creativity: Creative people need to contribute, need to work with real interest on things that will be applied. They are not OK with giving ideas and consulting people just to get a big old “No” or “Nah!” in the end of the day. Quoting the article here: “Smart leaders don’t place people in boxes – they free them from boxes. What’s the use in having a racehorse if you don’t let them run?“,
- Failed to give me a voice: Well, this is not quite true in my experience. I was quite often heard and asked about things in all my workplaces. The problem is that I was felt in the end feeling stupid cause most of the times, my ideas, although they seemed good to me, were not followed or were simply “butchered” into pieces, turned into boring and meaningless tasks that interested no one and impacted nothing. Partly I recognized my own mistakes here for not fighting more for some of my ideas,
- Failed to lead me: To be honest once more, I am not the kind of person that likes to be “forcefully” led that much (which is kind of what happens usually). I kind of operate, in my mind at least, respecting the hierarchy but other than that, I try to feel equal towards my fellow colleague or even director/boss/CEO. So, having said that, I am not sure if I was in this place you need to be in order to be led by someone. I did feel respect for the skills or knowledge of many of my bosses, but I would not be so hasty so as to call someone a true born leader,
- Failed to recognize my contributions: I am this kind of a fool that will be really happy with a nice e-mail, a kind word or a tap on the back. Very few people have given me that during my life and these are the ones that managed every time to get me to do whatever they wanted. Apart from that, my professional life so far has been more of a “tough love” rollercoaster ride, rather than baloons and flowers… I appreciate a hard lesson, don’t let me be misunderstood here, but also appreciate appreciation itself!
- Failed to increase my responsibility: This is one of these things that goes both ways. I have truly felt as not being responsible, truly responsible for anything. In other cases, I have felt that I despised responsibility like cats despise water. On the other hand, being as hard-working and opinionated as I am, I can only think that there came a point when I felt that even taking some responsibility for sth, this was just in my mind and in reality I was not actually in control. I think that this is the reason why most employees turn away from responsibility at some point,
- Failed to keep up with their commitments: How many stories of lost bonuses, promised vacation that never came, do I have to hear from colleagues and friends? Too many! It’s actually ironic how when you get though an interview, everything seems amazing in a company, only to get hired and see for yourself that a month later, nothing applies actually! Bonuses come and go in an instant, flexible working hours are flexible only when you don’t have deadlines, but then, there’s always a deadline. If I had a penny for every little story I heard about this, I would be a millionaire already,
- Failed to recognize life/work limits: Well, that’s like saying that earth orbits the sun… Till recently, I was always in institutions/companies, where early departures were frowned upon, that’s after eight hours or work. Actually, leaving the office with ten hours on your back was kind of a war medal, worthy of the friendly pat in the back! Especially when 10 hours became 12 for a straight week or a month, this is where the early signs of alcoolism started showing. Having a relaxing beer or two after work became half a bottle of whisky for some of my close friends. Working hours is a joke in most companies in Greece,
- Failed to see the bigger picture, or find it: All the rest taken care for, there’s always this f*^%#$) higher purpose you need to see. There’s this higher purpose you need to serve in order to feel like you’re doing something more for yourself and the society as a whole. There’s this sense of achievement that you need to feel when you leave work or when you go. Well, in many cases, this is also out of the question. I have been in jobs where I felt I had close to zero impact. Damn, there have been times when I thought that even if I disappeared, no one would even look for me! Feeling that you serve some purpose other than yourself, is a must for many of us and this is something that apart from all else, I wish that everyone finds it in their job!
Which ones of the previous situations would make you leave your job in an instant? Could it be just one, or is it a mix that would really drive you crazy? If I had to pick 3 or 4, I would say that the worst for me are (from the most important to the least one) 9, 10, 3, and 6.