How Do We Prevent The Brain Drain Of Our Key Talent?

I’m concerned because we are starting to lose some of our quality people who have a quite a bit of knowledge about our products and services.   What can be done to stop this brain drain?”

Most managers think salary is the prime motivator for employees and believe they will leave even for a slight increase in wages. Yes, salary is important. It may get people in the door but it alone will not keep them.

Don’t look for causes and solutions for employee retention out there. Instead, you’ll find what keeps employees engaged and motivated to stay, rather than leave, actually result from a host of internal management practices.

Here are five “demotivator” that will certainly dampen the enthusiasm of your best and brightest and influence them to seek out “greener pastures”.

  1. Overloading them with responsibility.
    A study recently released by the American Management Association found that 76% of professionals surveyed said they had more responsibility than a year ago, while 65% said their workload has increased. But more responsibility doesn’t necessarily translate to greater job satisfaction of top performers. Rather, it can be viewed as being “dumped upon” and that can lead to a decrease in their motivation and performance.
  2. Micromanaging their efforts and their time.
    Once given the scope of their assignment or project, top performers expect that you’ll have trust in their ability to move forward without constantly looking over their shoulders. An important part of managing others, especially if they are highly competent, is to let go.
  3. Creating confusion about roles and responsibilities.
    The best and the brightest want to attack assignments with vigor and decisiveness. They want to know things like what resources and decision-making authority they have. If it’s unclear it can lead to conflict with others over who does what with what people and when it needs to get done.
  4. Focusing on the bureaucracy, not the results.
    There’s nothing more frustrating when you clearly see the big picture than to have someone insist that every decision must be pre-approved in triplicate. In too many workplaces, the myth of empowerment is one of the greater fantasies. Loosen up the bureaucracy and grant freedom to those who earn it.
  5. Constantly changing goals and objectives.
    Top performers are definitely goal driven on both a personal and business level. Each goal accomplished at work is another message that life is good, that work is satisfying. Take that away, by constantly changing, rearranging or eliminating previously stated objectives, and you will frustrate the goal-driven employee.

What Do These Five Demotivators Have in Common?

Much of the responsibility for the engagement and retention of your key talent rests on their immediate manager or supervisor.  The best ones are coaches instead of bosses. They set expectations, give timely positive and corrective feedback, and provide many opportunities for employee involvement.  Are your managers and supervisors modeling the right kind of behaviors that retain good folks?  If not, what needs to be done? Here are past posts with additional information to help you stop the brain drain of your key talent. Is Retaining Your Best Talent a Top Priority? It Should Be! 10 Smart Engagement Strategies, Employee Turnover: Is It Eating Your Profits?

Smart Moves Tip

Don’t wait until employees leave to find out why. Instead of exit interviews do stay interviews. The best way to find out what motivates you employees and how to retain them is to ask them. Not: “How’s it going?”; Rather: Why did you join the organization? How well are your objectives or dreams being fulfilled? Which aspects of your work do you enjoy the most? Which do you least enjoy? Are you receiving sufficient opportunities for growth and development? What would influence you to leave?

The stay interview is an opportunity for managers to build trust and to assess the degree of their employee’s personal satisfaction and engagement. If you can find problems early, you can then find ways to solve them. That will give you a better chance of retaining your critical talent.

Would you want to know more about stay interviews? As well as obtain the “10 Stay Interview Questions to Ask Your Employees”? Contact [email protected]

My motto is: “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens. To bring that magic to your leadership Subscribe to “Coaching Clinic” Marcia’s monthly Execubrief with additional insights, intelligence, and inspiration on leadership and career topics.


Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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