Think back. Reflect on your career and write down your top five leadership disappointments.
If your experience is typical, your list will include losing top-quality talent. The memory of “suddenly” losing one of your best and brightest never seems to fade. The story is always the same: They weren’t looking, but a great opportunity just fell into their lap (yeah, right). An excerpt from an article in Strategy+Business by Susan Cramm.
Hearing the news makes your heart sink and shifts your reality. It’s not just business; it’ personal. They aren’t just leaving the organization; they’re leaving you. In spite of all the time spent together making plans, overcoming adversities, and celebrating accomplishments, they have decided that your best efforts as a leader weren’t good enough. To cope, you rationalize: “People are responsible for their own careers.” You think to yourself: “They come and they go. Nothing I could have done. No one is indispensable. No big deal.
But it is a big deal. Losing high performers is painful, both personally and professionally. An estimated 25 percent of these high-potential employees plan on leaving their jobs within a year.
However, leaders can reduce the risk of losing the right people for the wrong reasons by working collaboratively with them to identify challenging assignments that tap into their passions and career goals.
Most leaders sidestep career discussions, buying into the philosophy that it’s not their responsibility. While this is fundamentally true, most people don’t have well-articulated career goals or feel comfortable talking with their supervisors about the type of opportunities that would help them develop. As a result, they find it easier to converse with a recruiter rather than their boss as they consider the future of their careers.
Customizing opportunities to each employee are important, and you should care. Know your people by meeting with them one-on-one for 90 minutes. When scheduling the meeting, let them know that you want to get to know them better and discuss their passions and career goals, requesting that they provide written responses along with their most current resume prior to the meeting.
Make the meeting all about them. Ask questions, reflect back what you hear, and be encouraging. Don’t provide feedback or advice—just listen and learn. Your people will leave the meeting feeling honored, respected, and energized, and you will have the insights necessary to help them define their development objectives and sculpt their future assignments in a way that synchs up with how they want to live and what they want to achieve.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of staying in close contact with your high potentials. You may have high expectations of them, but they also have high expectations of you. Make it hard for them to leave you by making sure you don’t leave them.
- Career at a crossroads? (reed.co.uk)
- Benefits of mentoring (reed.co.uk)
- The Talent “Four-Step”: Retain (leadershipstrikes.wordpress.com)
- 10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You (wheresthesausage.typepad.com)
- Hiring The Right People For Your Business (thehartford.com)
- 5 Leadership Lessons: Listen, Learn, Lead (thehartford.com)