Earlier this month, we discussed a few of the key reasons why seemingly happy and thriving employees submit resignation letters. Some of these reasons come with plenty of warning (unaddressed complaints, rejected requests for a pay increase, or a hostile workplace culture), but sometimes they appear seemingly out of nowhere. This week, we’ll address one of the most common reasons for an unexpected departure: no room for advancement.
Employees who are trying to climb the industry ladder and grow their careers tend to be hard working individuals and they also tend to develop their strategies and career plans privately. They probably won’t tell you if they’re feeling restless and ready to search for work elsewhere, and you may not know what they’re doing until the day they accept another offer and give notice. But you can head off this day if you make an effort to clear an upward path for them within your walls, so they aren’t tempted to leave. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
When employees request promotions, they aren’t kidding.
Employees don’t tend to request promotions just to test the waters or solicit praise. They aren’t asking for a pat on the back; they’re asking for a new job, and when you say no, you aren’t just hurting their feelings. You’re standing in the way of their plans and, in a sense, holding back their growth and forcing them to seek other options. So think carefully before rejecting an employee who requests more responsibility. Make sure you have a valid reason and be ready to lose the employee if you can’t provide her with an alternative.
If you really can’t advance your employee to the next level, explain why, and provide her with some incentive to stay. For example, offer a clear and measurable set of goals that she’ll need to meet within three months before she can take this step. Then be ready to follow through after these goals have been completed. You can also offer a few substitutes which many employees will happily accept in lieu of promotions, for example, a salary increase or change in title.
If you hire a promising candidate by suggesting that she’ll have an opportunity to step into a management role within two years, make sure that role is available within two years. If you expect the current occupant of the role to leave and he doesn’t, what will you do? How will you reshuffle your organization or workflows to accommodate the promise you made (or implied)? Part of your role as a manager includes cultivating your employees and supporting their career growth, so if you can’t hold up your end of the bargain, don’t expect your new hire to stay.
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