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9. Juan-Francois Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux, ˜˜The Set-Up to Fail
Syndrome,™™ Harvard Business Review on Managing People (Boston: Har-
vard Business School Press, 1999).
10. J. Sterling Livingston, ˜˜Pygmalion in Management,™™ Harvard Business
Review on Managing People (Boston: Harvard Business School Press,
11. Ibid.
12. Jack Welch and John A. Byrne, Jack: Straight from the Gut (New York:
Warner Books, 2001).
13. Richard Beatty, ˜˜Competitive Human Resource Advantage Through
the Strategic Management of Performance,™™ Human Resources Planning,
Volume 12, November 15, 1989.

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

14. Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins, Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why
They Back¬re and What to Do Instead (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler,
15. Zemke, op. cit.
16. Jerry Useem, ˜˜A Manager for All Seasons,™™ Fortune, April 30, 2001.
17. Fournies, op. cit.
18. Ibid.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, First Break All the Rules: What
the World™s Greatest Managers Do Differently (New York: Simon &
Schuster, 1999).
23. Danielle McDonald, ˜˜The Impact of Performance Management in
Organization Success,™™ Hewitt Associates Study, 1997.
24. Geoffrey Colvin, ˜˜Make Sure You Chop the Dead Wood,™™ Fortune,
April 2000.
25. Ibid.
26. Jack Welch, letter to shareholders, customers, and employees, January
27. Colvin, op. cit.
28. Daniel Goleman, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional In-
telligence (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002).
29. McKinsey Work Force 2000 survey.
30. Welch, op. cit.


Reason 4:
Too Few Growth and
Advancement Opportunities
In the end, it is important
to remember that we
cannot become what we
need to be by remaining
what we are.

— ”M DP

with career growth and advancement
Comments expressing disappointment
fall into six categories: limited growth/advancement opportunities, unfair
or inef¬cient job-posting process, not hiring from within, favoritism or
unfairness in promotion decisions, insuf¬cient training, and other. Here™s a
sampling of what departed employees had to say in each of these areas:

1. Limited Growth and Advancement Opportunities
• ˜˜There is not much opportunity to move up. You get entrenched
in a position and you™re stuck there.™™
• ˜˜Promotions and advancements outside a department within the
company are not an easy thing to accomplish. One would think
you should be able to advance within a company with ease.™™
• ˜˜ABC Company™s departments don™t work together. In some de-
partments people are promoted each year while other depart-
ments never have the money to promote employees.™™
• ˜˜The company locks people into their positions for nine months,
which stalls advancement. Nine months per position is far too
long in most entry-level jobs, especially if the individual has ex-
tensive experience.™™
The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

2. Unfair or Inef¬cient Internal Selection Process
• ˜˜They post positions and then take forever to follow through or
proceed, and they don™t communicate the status of the posted
positions. I applied for a position almost a month ago and have
not heard anything back.™™
• ˜˜The director was appointed without the posting of the position.
Several other candidates had much more integrity, management
experience and education than the director who was selected. It
sickened the team.™™
• ˜˜XYZ Company did not seem to stick with their own rules. Ex-
ample: I know that some posted jobs are tailored to ¬t one em-
ployee in particular and even some jobs are not even posted, but
renamed and handed off as a promotion.™™
3. Not Hiring from Within
• ˜˜ABC Company hires too much from outside the company in-
stead of promoting from within.™™
• ˜˜XYZ Company does poorly regarding promoting from within.
We have internal candidates who could step in and do the job
quite nicely.™™
• ˜˜Promote internally. I have seen four supervisors hired within one
year”all of them from other companies.™™
4. Unfairness/Favoritism in Promotion Decisions
• ˜˜In certain cases the manager won™t recommend an employee for
another position because they do not want to lose that employee.
It™s not fair for someone to hold you back.™™
• ˜˜ABC Company is tainted with politics and favoritism. Employ-
ees were given management positions or promotions not for their
skill sets but for how well they were liked in the ¬rm.™™
• ˜˜I am a working mother of two, and I ¬nd it nearly impossible to
move up within my department. My hours are structured (nine
hours a day) but when I am in the of¬ce I work my hardest and
strive to achieve my goals. When a project or on-going activities
call for extended hours, I rearrange child care and work as needed.
However, on a daily basis I am disheartened that the subject of
my hours comes into play. My priority is my family, but my life
also includes work that I enjoy. I know there is a delicate balance
for working mothers within the workplace but I™m discouraged
there is not more understanding and ¬‚exibility. I have heard sev-

R® #: T F· G· ®¤ A¤®® O°°µ®©© 95

eral times that I need to work longer in order to complete my
goals in order to become promoted. If my nine-hour days are not
being counted or recognized, I feel worthless, as if my work
doesn™t matter.™™
• ˜˜Discrimination! Too many negative comments regarding wom-
en™s weight, looks, etc. As a result many talented people are un-
• ˜˜Supervisors hire friends as ˜team leads™ instead of the more com-
petent of the group.™™
5. Insuf¬cient Training
• ˜˜I am disappointed that I am not able to take advantage of certain
training/learning opportunities because they do not apply to my
current position. I want to be able to grow and learn about all
that the company has to offer, but they limit you to only the
training that relates to your current job.™™
• ˜˜I believe the biggest issue we have is training. I have many em-
ployees who would be more satis¬ed and willing to stay on if
adequate training was provided.™™
• ˜˜XYZ Company provides poor sales training. If the growth ini-
tiatives are to be the number one priority and there is no sales
training, how can management expect different results or in-
creased sales.™™
• ˜˜Training!!! If you are not located at the corporate of¬ce, training
is not available.™™
6. Other Issues
• ˜˜Acknowledge and respect the employee™s career goals when as-
signing work.™™
• ˜˜They don™t have a clear direction for those who do not know
what they want to do. Clearly de¬ned career paths are not avail-
• ˜˜Management and supervisors seem to only care for themselves
and don™t care about the growth or advancement of their em-
• ˜˜ABC Company does not have a career development workshop.™™
• ˜˜Employees need more career counseling.™™

What They Are Really Saying
Look beneath the surface of these comments and you will see a number of
issues faced by most organizations:

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

• There will inevitably be limited opportunities for career growth in
every organization.
• Barriers between departments and position levels constrain internal
movement and growth.
• No one at the top of the organization is coordinating internal talent
management activities to create awareness of growth opportunities
in all departments and units.
• Fixed time-in-grade policies keep employees from advancing when
they are ready.
• Job posting processes are slow and unresponsive.
• Less quali¬ed employees are being hired because of manager favor-
• Demand for long work hours limits promotional opportunities for
single parents despite their sacri¬ce and hard work.
• Gender-based and other kinds of prejudice create obstacles to career
• Training is restricted only to certain positions, departments, or loca-
• Training is approved only if it is related to employee™s current posi-
tion, and disapproved if it relates to preparation for future opportuni-
• Training is inadequate.
• There is no training at all, even when it is needed to achieve impor-
tant company goals.
• Managers assign work without considering employees™ talents and
• There is no process to assist employees with unclear career goals.
• Career path information is unavailable.
• Managers are concerned only about their own careers, not the career
growth of their employees.

There are enough issues related to internal career growth and develop-
ment in most companies to keep several consultants busy for months. Yet,
employers of choice seem to have fewer such issues. They know that career
growth and advancement consistently ranks among the top three reasons
employees stay or leave in most companies. They understand that top per-
formers seek out and pursue jobs and careers with employers that put extra
effort into helping employees learn, grow, and advance internally.

R® #: T F· G· ®¤ A¤®® O°°µ®©© 97

Yet, in a survey by The Conference Board, limited career opportunities
was found to be the number one driver of overall employee dissatisfaction,
cited by 59 percent of workers.1 In another survey, where managers and
employees were asked to rate the performance of today™s managers on 67
necessary leadership competencies, ˜˜developing direct reports™™ ranked
67th”dead last.2 In a Towers-Perrin study, 85 percent of employees cited
career advancement as a key reward, yet only 49 percent said their compa-
nies were providing it. Similarly, 80 percent said that learning and develop-
ment programs are critical, but only 50 percent said their offerings are
suf¬cient or effective.3 These kinds of survey results remind us that, with
about half of all companies not even trying to develop their people, there
is ample opportunity for those who are trying to become employers of

Employers of Choice Start by Understanding the
New Career Realities
So much has changed in the worldwide business climate and in the way
businesses now operate, that the impact of these changes on the careers of
individuals working in organizations needs to be acknowledged.
Waves of downsizings have changed the loyalty contract and height-
ened the levels of stress and job security. The continuing focus on short-
term, bottom-line results, particularly among public companies, has created
tremendous pressure on managers to reduce costs and push workers to
produce more with less. Resulting productivity gains have come at the
price of reducing job satisfaction, eliminating rungs on career ladders, and
forestalling job creation.
The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon
caused many workers to reevaluate the centrality of work in their lives and
seek more time with family, leisure pursuits, or more personally ful¬lling
career options.
Fewer younger workers now seek traditional full-time jobs or long-
term employment with any one company. Generations X and Y prefer
short-term goals of job challenge, vacation time, and new skills acquisition
over traditional rewards such as job security and long-term bene¬ts.
More and more employees are choosing to work from home. Proven
and valued older workers are now poised to retire in unprecedented num-
bers, inaugurating a new era of talent shortages, and leaving millions of
companies with ˜˜leadership gaps™™ they are not prepared to ¬ll.

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

While there will continue to be a shortage of skilled people to perform
available jobs, the public education system will not be able to prepare
workers with the skills needed to do tomorrow™s jobs.
The cumulative effect of all these changes has been the creation of a
new contract4 between employer and employee, which many managers
(who came of age when the old contract was in place) have been slow to


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