Assume at some point every single employee you manage is going to quit. Once you internalize that as a fact, you’re mindset as a manager then needs to shift from how do I stop them from leaving, and into how can I give them the best opportunities to grow and learn so that they can be happier and more productive while they are here, which in turn pushes out the fateful day they will call you into a room to have “The Chat”.
One day when they eventually call it quits, you know that it isn’t necessarily your failing as a manager that lead them to leaving but perhaps more indicative of your successes. You empowered them with the tools, knowledge, and ability to thrive and grow, and that directly or indirectly lead to them landing their next job.
Brace yourselves for this one: Teams are made up of people. People change, grow, lose and gain interests, have lives outside of work, and sometimes just get fed up of being too into a routine. It happens to you just as much as it does to any of your colleagues and reports. Sometimes people get into funks and can be pulled out of it, this happens frequently with large scale changes and pivots, but sometimes they can’t or they don’t want to, and that’s okay too.
By treating people like people, and not deliberately giving them incentive to leave, your extending the total time they’ll want to stick with you. Aim to take away as many of the reasons people typically look for work: money, challenge, boredom, routine, overworked, underworked, culture, product alignment, disbelief in management effectiveness, personal time, vacation, benefits, and so on. If your people have no reason to leave, they will leave less frequently. Funny, huh? But try as you might, it will inevitably happen. Hopefully you can rest easy knowing you did as much as you could for them, and that some times we just want to make a change.
Wouldn’t you want the same?
Originally published at stuartphilp.com on September 1, 2016.