3 Things Guaranteed to Drive Your Most Talented Employees Out The Door
One of the most common challenges any growing startup faces is trying to locate and recruit new talent. Founders spend countless hours pouring over resumes, LinkedIn profiles, references, interviews, and notes. They will toil over “best practices” they read on thought leadership blogs and HR focused books to insure they are finding the perfect skillset, culture, and personality fit for their startup. This process many times can take months and hundreds (thousands…) of dollars, just to fill one position.
ALL that time, effort, thought, and money to get the person in the door and at a desk. Then, over and over again, too many founders will systematically do everything wrong to drive that new hire out the door in six to twelve months through terrible management practices.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to keep losing your great new hires.
While this could easily be a 25 part list, I’m going to just hit the top three most common ways to lose your best talent.
- Too many founders don’t respect their employees. This one is far too pervasive throughout the startup world. They view their employees as a necessary burden in order to scale their operations. It’s their baby and these people just get to come along for the ride. That the company needs to take precedent over anything else going on in their lives, even though during the interview process the founder promised that they would let them “chase their passions” and the amazing “unlimited” vacation policy. That employees should feel honored to have received a four year vesting 0.05% stake in the company, in exchange for a below market salary. Yet, they expect employees to put in well over 40 hours of work and never complain. Which brings me to my second point.
- Too many founders expect their employees to work more than 40 hours a week, as if they were a cofounder. It has been written about over and over and over and over and over again about how working more hours doesn’t yield better work, better results, or a better work environment. It’s a disastrous company culture to build where it’s implied that people are expected to work 50 to 60 hours a week or feel like they are being “lazy” because they couldn’t complete the mountain of work given to them. Employees will rarely work like they are a cofounder, because they are not a cofounder! The end result is, talented people will leave when they feel overworked, as they know there are better opportunities waiting for them elsewhere.
- Too many founders don’t celebrate the small wins. The life of a startup isn’t long enough to only celebrate the big wins, the major successes, the incredible things an employee did. Every great founder knows that you have to reward the small wins along the way, to keep their best employees motivated. It can be tough as the startup life is hurried, always putting out fires and constantly trying to fight to survive and grow. The founders that don’t celebrate small wins are the same ones that don’t recognize employees contributions with rewards for their good work. It can be as small as the proverbial pat on the back or an acknowledgement in front of the whole team. It sounds so simple, but it’s all too common for many founders to “reward” their employees small wins with comments like, “Ok, here are the next three things I need from you.” (end of conversation…) That’s a great way to rip the motivation away from a talented person who is working their butt off.
These are the three most common that I seen, but as I mentioned, this list could go on and on. For the sake of brevity here are another half dozen common management mistakes from founders.
- Too many founders give their employees too much autonomy because they are afraid of being managers. Common symptom, using the phrase “I let me employees self-manage. I’m a hands off boss”.
- Too many founders don’t encourage and help their employees to keep developing their skills. Any talented employee wants to get better at their trade.
- Too many founders don’t get rid of bad apples quickly enough. Every founder has made a bad hire, it’s how quickly they fire them that makes the difference, before the bad hire has a chance to poison the team.
- Too many founders don’t realize or simply don’t care to keep their word to employees. “A Players” will remember the promises not kept and bitterness will grow in its absence.
- Too many founders are afraid of difficult conversations with employees. Most major employee blowups and talented people quitting can be avoided with having candid conversations.
- Too many founders think that being “buddies” with their employees is the best style of management. There is nothing wrong with being friendly and having camaraderie with employees. The problem is is when trying to be too nice and too carefree, becomes a management nightmare.
The main takeaway from all of this is that managing talented employees is both a challenge and a gift. With the unbelievable amount of new startups launching every day, there are so many options now as a talented worker. Founders have to work harder than ever to be great managers in order to retain talent and so many of the common mistakes are avoidable with just a small amount of practice, education, and willpower.
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This article was written from scratch and published the same day as part of a 31 day writing challenge. To follow me on Medium through this writing challenge, go here:https://medium.com/the-writing-challenge