File under "Insights that seem shocking if you've been working under a rock"

According to the Houston Chronicle–or as the hip kids like to call it “The Chron”–half of your stellar employees may be looking for a new gig.

No. I’m serious.

Forty-seven percent of your most productive, most creative, most valuable workers are mailing out resumes, going on job interviews, even contemplating other offers.

I know. Take a second to let that sink in.

Whoof. Shocking, isn’t?

What’s more:

And don’t assume it’s about money. When someone quits a job, 89 percent of managers assume it was over money, whereas 91 percent of the workers who quit say it was anything but, Murphy said.

Wha? Wha? Wha?

People are leaving because of something other than money? Are you kidding me? These exemplary employees are looking for something beyond a paycheck?

I’m not kidding. It’s in print. Give it a read, “Star workers tire of performing while others loaf.”

All joking and vitriolic sarcasm aside, the article is a high-level gloss on the problem. It does hit some of the main issues, but it also puts forth some rather critical misconceptions that should be rectified:

  • “Forty-seven percent…” is low. If they have been there for longer than 6 months, all of your stars are looking for another gig. Trust me.
  • “Over and over we ask our high performers to go above and beyond, making their jobs tough and burning them out at a terrible pace.” Um, no. Being consistently handed jobs that challenge me is not why I burn out. I burn out for exactly the converse reason: Being consistently handed jobs that do not challenge me or engage me. Or, worse yet, having jobs that actually matter get killed by lack of vision. That’s burnout there, baby. Not putting in a few more hours.
  • “High performers hate slackers.” That’s completely untrue. I envy slackers. They have figured out something around which I’ve never been able to wrap my head: how to quit caring and just work. What I hate is that system has been designed to nurture slackers and mediocrity rather than nurturing growth.
  • “They’re really sick of having to carry the load for everybody else.” Again, no. We want to carry the load for everyone else. We think we’re smarter than everyone else. We are the go-to people. We want that responsibility. We’re sick, instead, of the subscribing to the lowest common denominator mentality that pervades the business.
  • “So how do you reverse the trend? First, identify your high performers and commit yourself to holding on to them.” Wrong, wrong, wrong, and, um, wrong. You first need to embrace the idea that you can’t “hold on to” a high performer. A high performer is always looking for the next opportunity. You can’t really hold on to them. What you can do is use their expertise while they’re engaged. And maybe, if you keep throwing interesting problems at them, they’ll stay engaged, and happy. But trying to hold them is a mistake.
  • “Supervisors need to talk one-on-one with each of those targeted people to ask them what they love about their jobs and what drives them crazy.” This one is a tough one. Yes, they need to talk. But talk only gets so far. If the manager is unable to influence the type of change that would rectify the situation, the manager should admit this. Tie it off. It’s no use limping the process along, making promises that will go unfulfilled. Define the problem and rectify the problem. If this is not possible, then be upfront about it. The last thing I want to do is sit through a 1-on-1 every week where I bitch about the same exact thing over and over with no resolution in sight. That’s not productive for anyone.

What do you think? Is “Star workers tire of performing while others loaf” on-target or off?

Me? I’d be happy to argue some more.

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Founder and editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
This entry was posted in Corporate Culture, Employment, Loyalty, Management, Performance, Value. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to File under "Insights that seem shocking if you've been working under a rock"

  1. Pingback: Moonlighting Revisited, sans Cybil and Bruce | More than a living

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