Admit it. You’ve either told your employer a white lie on the way out the door or you know someone who has. Who can blame you? However, as an employer these little white lies do more harm than good. How can you fix what may be broken in your organization if you don’t know where to begin?
Here are five lines employees give when joyfully leaving their companies. Be prepared to dig deeper if an employee gives you one of these stock lines.
1. It’s not you; it’s me. If your employee ends the relationship with this age-old cliché line than you can bet it’s about you. You’ll be able to learn more about what you might have done differently to have prevented this employee from breaking up with you, if you don’t get defensive. Instead, ask what you might have otherwise done that would have ended with a different result. Be prepared to give examples to get this person talking. Asking questions like, “I often wonder if I had spent more time mentoring you, if that would have made a difference. What’s your thoughts on that?” can certainly help you learn more and can help you prevent making the same mistake twice.
2. I’m leaving for a better opportunity. This may be partially true, but there is usually more to this one than meets the eye. Otherwise the employee wouldn’t have given the other opportunity further consideration. Ask targeted questions to help better understand those areas where you may not be as competitive as you think. Be sure to ask if there was a certain point in time where this employee would not have considered other opportunities. Follow up by asking what changed for them and why.
3. I don’t have another job. It’s quite rare in this economy for people to leave a job when they don’t have another one lined up. This means that things were either so bad that the employee couldn’t take it anymore or they don’t want you to know that they just took a job with your competitor. You can test out your theory by asking them if they’d be willing to stay until a replacement is found. If they say no before you finish your question, then you know there is more to this story than they are revealing. You aren’t going to be able to beat the real reason out of them, but you do want to be sure to keep your eyes and ears open, especially if the employee who is departing has a non-compete agreement with your company.
4. I’m leaving for more money. Studies consistently show that the majority of employees don’t leave companies for more money, although you wouldn’t know this if you added up all the people who actually say this is why they are quitting! It’s usually something else. We do know that people leave their bosses more than they leave their companies, so that would be a good place to start. Look for patterns. Are the people who are leaving for more money all working for the same boss? If you gave them a counter offer and they immediately dismissed your offer, than most likely it’s not about the money. It’s about something else.
5. I wasn’t looking. They called me. I’ve done enough direct sourcing to know that if an employee is happy, there is nothing I can do or say to interest him or her in an interview. Somewhere along the line, discontent has set in. Nothing much you can do to save this relationship. Instead, focus your efforts on finding out if the remaining members of your staff are content or if they are ripe to take a call from a third-party or another company who knows exactly what to say to pique their interest.
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