There are plenty of subtle — and not so subtle — signs someone who works for you is about to jump ship.
If you’re sensing that one of your most valuable employees has one foot out the door, you’ll want to address any issues and try to turn things around before it’s too late.
Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humor Advantage,” says losing even just one employee can have a significant affect on many aspects of your business. “It can impact the culture in a team in a negative way. And there’s a substantial cost and time commitment involved in replacing and training new employees,” he says.
Here’s what to do when you realize someone you work with is about to resign:
Gather facts before approaching them.
You don’t want to become paranoid — or worse, wrongly accuse anyone of disloyalty.
“Try to approach an employee or another manager with whom you have a trusted relationship, and ask for their general perspective,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.”
“Start with big picture-related questions, and as you earn their confidence, ask for greater detail.”
If it comes down to an exit interview, it’s too late, says Kerr.
“Great leaders have what I call ‘what’ll keep you here?’ interviews instead of exit interviews,” he says. “Regular feedback, check-ins, and honest conversations about how work is going should be an ongoing practice for any leader who wants to reduce employee turnover rates. Ask them what their on and off switches are (motivators and de-motivators) at work — you may be surprised at how easily some of their concerns can be addressed.”
Have an honest conversation … but don’t make them feel threatened.
The earlier you inquire about potential issues, the better, Taylor says. “But employees will have their guard up and may be afraid of jeopardizing their jobs, so it’s critical to make them feel safe about sharing real problems.”
Kerr suggests you have an honest conversation away from the office in neutral territory where they’ll likely feel more comfortable opening up and saying what needs to be said.
“Express your concerns about the things you’ve noticed, and ask them outright if they are thinking about leaving — but not in an accusatory tone which might only cause them to shut down. Instead, use a tone than conveys you’re concerned about their life and their well-being. Tell them how much you value their work and why … and be specific.”
If they do admit they are looking for other jobs, then explore the reasons why and what options are available to address their concerns, he says.