A friend recently left his most recent job to go it on his own, no small feat when you think about the comfort that comes from being part of a larger organization.
The funny thing is, this seems to be a growing trend. An increasing number of 30-somethings in my network find the prospects of independent contracting or small business start-up more attractive than the security of large established organizations. In lieu of regular exempt paychecks and calendars chocked with meaningless meetings, these folks are gearing up and heading out into their own efforts, soliciting and landing projects that let them focus on really doing the work they enjoy, without the requisite overhead and political hassles of the corporate environment.
But as these matured professionals head out, where is HR in this to try and understand the trend? Most of the exit interviews (when they occur, which is more infrequent than I had always thought) I’m hearing about completely miss the point, and beg questions that don’t do much to close the gap. Without a doubt, the #1 and #2 reasons I’m hearing are:
- I’m asked to do more with less, and see no possible upside in the future. Even if I succeed, it simply courts more arbitrary demands for the impossible.
- My manager simply can’t perform at the level to which hey’ve been promoted. They are a hinderance, and more dangerously, have no concept of what it takes to actually get the real work done. They commit the crimes of false assurance to senior management, and demand the impossible.
So who’s role is it call this breakdown to the attention of senior management? No one wants to be the messenger with an arrow in their heart, but HR is in the position to gather good details, and in turn, ensure that senior management has good visibility to the exodus of middle managers that should be providing the candidate pool for upcoming leaders.Stronger exit questions should include:
- What was the cause of your departure (work-life balance, autonomy or lack of, other personnel, company practices or values)?
- Where are you headed, and what makes that more attractive?
- What would it take to keep you, or alternatively, interest you enough to return in the next 12-24 months?
- What one thing would you recommend management change at the department level? What one thing would you recommend management change at the organizational level?
Getting the right people on the bus is critical, but so is keeping them once they’re on board.