. 19
( 40 .)


3. Spiral: These are people who aspire to broaden their careers
by moving every ¬ve to ten years to a position that builds on
previous positions, but may involve broader responsibilities.
Spirals value growth and creativity and may seek rotational
and cross-functional assignments.
4. Roamer: They de¬ne success by changing jobs often”perhaps
every two to three years”and may move on to jobs unrelated
to previous experience. Roamers are generally motivated more
by variety and independence, not by security, and can play key
roles in start-up situations in companies that are expanding.

Organizations may not be able to accommodate all four of these
career patterns at all times. Still, understanding the different career
styles that exist among the general population can facilitate the job-
person matching process and help managers to assist employees in
identifying best-¬t advancement opportunities. Managers will need to
understand the differing motives of employees through individualized
career coaching and work to create career opportunities that meet
employee needs and business needs in new ways.7

R® #: T F· G· ®¤ A¤®® O°°µ®©© 105

Other companies, especially those whose success depends on product
innovations of engineers or other technical specialists, have created higher-
level technical positions with increasing responsibility and commensurate
pay. By doing so, these organizations provide individuals with technical
growth aspirations the opportunity to realize them without leaving the
company. They also prevent another damaging outcome: moving highly
competent technical professionals into positions where their incompetence
at managing people can have the unfortunate result of driving good em-
ployees out the door.

Off the Career Ladder and onto the SWAT Team
When Mervyn™s department stores of California discovered that tal-
ented employees in merchandising were leaving because they were
tired of patiently serving time on the company™s one-size-¬ts-all ca-
reer path, the company came up with a creative solution. Several
managers suggested placing these restless individuals on unassigned
status where they would be called on to ¬ll frequently occurring
staf¬ng gaps in the company™s nine different divisions.
Those put on this ˜˜SWAT Team,™™ as it was called, found just
what they were looking for”a varied mix of responsibilities, new
contacts, new opportunities for growth and learning, and greater con-
trol over their own schedules.
In the ¬rst year, the SWAT Team grew from nineteen members
to thirty-four. Several SWAT Team members have been recruited
into higher-level positions because of their increased exposure across
the company. By not holding to rigid ideas about traditional career
paths, Mervyn™s has created an exciting, prestigious, ¬‚exible alterna-
tive that has allowed the company to hold on to talent they would
otherwise have lost.8

Engagement Practice 27: Keep Employees Informed
About the Company™s Strategy, Direction, and Talent Need
The best employees seek reassurance that they have hitched their star to a
company that will continue to be successful and have a need for their
capabilities. This means they need to be kept informed about the com-

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

pany™s evolving marketing and growth strategies, and the career opportuni-
ties that are likely to come with them.
Companies such as Sun Microsystems, IBM, Intel, Advanced Micro
Devices, 3Com, and Microsoft have carried on the practice of giving open
business brie¬ngs where senior executives regularly brief employees on de-
cisions and plans that may impact jobs or skills required in the future.

Engagement Practice 28: Build and Maintain a Fair and
Ef¬cient Internal Job-Posting Process
As we heard in the comments at the beginning of this chapter, employees
are frequently suspicious about how jobs get ¬lled inside the organization,
particularly when they are ¬lled without being posted, when quali¬ed ap-
plicants are not interviewed or never even receive an acknowledgment
from human resources that their applications were received, or when they
are never told that they were screened out. Because hiring managers often
make hires based on factors such as similarity of background, likeability,
comfort, and chemistry, there will always be internal applicants who com-
plain that they were more quali¬ed. What is not excusable is hiring manag-
ers or HR managers not posting all positions, and not giving all quali¬ed
internal candidates sincere, open-minded consideration.
Much of the employee frustration with job-posting systems arises from
the fact that in many organizations they appear to be the only valid way to
¬nd out about existing or developing positions. As we know, the reality is
that by the time the job opening is formally posted, many internal candi-
dates will have already found out about it through informal means and
made themselves known to the hiring manager.
Many employees will be passive enough, na±ve enough, or so overly
trusting in the supposed fairness and ef¬ciency of internal systems that they
cannot see that using the job-posting system is often the last step in seeking
a career opportunity, not the ¬rst. Companies who provide formal career
self-management workshops and computer modules typically will include
a section on how jobs are found internally. In these sessions, the importance
of informal networking, doing informational interviewing about job and
skill requirements, and building relationships with hiring managers can be
openly discussed as legitimate career management activities. Such candid
discussion can open the eyes of some employees to their own need to
be more proactive and lessen their cynicism about favoritism and of¬ce

R® #: T F· G· ®¤ A¤®® O°°µ®©© 107

Engagement Practice 29:
Show a Clear Preference for Hiring from Within
Few things are more frustrating for well-quali¬ed employees than the com-
pany deciding to hire an outside candidate, or bringing in a consultant,
without even giving them a shot at interviewing for the job. In fact, such
an experience is often a predictable turning point in the disengagement and
eventual departure of highly talented employees, who may feel taken for
Employers of choice tend to hire outside candidates only when no
internal candidate is available, consistently conducting searches for internal
candidates as their ¬rst option. Some companies even maintain ˜˜talent
banks™™ containing resumes and talent pro¬les of employees that managers
can screen and match against job requirements.
Most companies recognize that it is more cost-ef¬cient to hire a proven
internal candidate rather than pay recruiter fees, relocation costs, and all the
other avoidable costs related to new-hire orientation and training. Current
employees already know the culture, have established relationships, and
understand the way things are done. But the biggest advantage is the mo-
rale-boosting message an internal hire sends to all employees: ˜˜Your contri-
butions and talent have not gone unnoticed.™™

Engagement Practice 30: Eliminate HR Policies and
Management Practices That Block Internal Movement
One of the greatest obstacles to the career growth and advancement of high
performers is the unwillingness of their own managers to encourage or
approve their movement to positions in other departments. Such ˜˜block-
ing™™ behavior drives top talent out of companies, and has caused some

Getting Around the Manager™s Career Roadblock
Cerner Corporation of Kansas City created a ˜˜career navigation cen-
ter™™ where employees could con¬dentially seek a better position if
they felt they were being sti¬‚ed by the current manager. The com-
pany also held seminars for managers to teach them about their reten-
tion responsibilities and monitored unit turnover numbers. When
numbers got too high, managers were called in for ˜˜what™s wrong?™™

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

CEOs to issue directives to all managers that ˜˜there will be no hoarding of
talent.™™ Another way of expressing this is ˜˜the manager doesn™t own the
talent . . . the organization owns the talent.™™
Nevertheless, because some managers will always put their own self-
interest before the interests of the organization, this will continue be an
issue. One way to address it is to speci¬cally include wording in compe-
tency descriptions, performance appraisals, and 360-degree feedback rat-
ings, such as ˜˜encourages and approves the movement of employees when
they seek professional growth opportunities that also serve the needs of the
organization.™™ Another effective way to discourage such blocking behavior
is to confront these managers with performance coaching and feedback,
and, if that does not work, to remove them from positions with responsibil-
ity for managing people.

New Way to Re-Engage and Retain Plateaued Employees
There will always be employees who reach a plateau and start looking
for new challenges. AT&T re-engages and retains ˜˜plateaued™™ em-
ployees with a program called Resource Link, which functions as an
in-house temporary service. Through this program, employees with
diverse management, technical, or professional skills sell their skills to
different departments for short-term assignments.10

Another kind of blocking that pushes valued employees out the door
has more to do with outdated and rigid ˜˜time-in-grade™™ policies that re-
quire employees to remain in a job for a set period of time before they
are allowed to seek other positions. Such policies were often designed to
discourage internal job-hopping, but fail to take into account that top per-
formers are often ready to move on sooner than average performers.

Engagement Practice 31:
Create a Strong Mentoring Culture
Formal mentoring programs have become a popular way for companies to
meet three objectives at the same time: Increase opportunities for women
and minorities, develop future leaders, and enhance the retention of em-
ployees at all levels. Mentoring programs have been found to be effective
in increasing employee retention in 77 percent of the companies that im-
plemented them.11

R® #: T F· G· ®¤ A¤®® O°°µ®©© 109

Successful mentoring programs are generally driven from the top
down, with strong endorsement and involvement by the CEO to encour-
age involvement by managers at all levels. Some companies go with formal
programs calling for regular meetings and frequent monitoring, while oth-
ers prefer informal approaches where employees and mentors are free to
decide how often to meet.
Mentoring managers tend to take their responsibilities as mentors more
seriously when mentoring is one of the competencies for which they are
evaluated on performance reviews. Training sessions for mentors and men-
tees to orient them to the process and clarify ground rules can be conducted
to support the process. Peer mentoring and coaching is offered when a
coworker has experience or knowledge to share.
Some large companies maintain databases of managers who have vol-
unteered to serve as mentors. Employees may review pro¬les of mentors
on ¬le and submit their choices in order of preference. To relieve the time
demands of having too many mentees, some companies facilitate small-
group mentoring where four to eight mentees meet with one mentor.
Often, such groups meet on a rotating basis with mentors who are expert
in one area, such as e-commerce or cost accounting, and build their knowl-
edge in a variety of areas.
Recognizing that many new leaders don™t last two years in their new
roles, many companies have also created ˜˜on-boarding™™ programs for
newly hired executives to immerse them in the organization™s culture.

Engagement Practice 32: Keep the Career Development
and Performance Appraisal Processes Separate
Traditionally, performance review forms have a section for summarizing
appropriate career objectives for employees and writing developmental ob-
jectives designed to close the gaps in current and required competencies.
It makes sense to discuss career advancement possibilities at performance
appraisal time, but such discussions are often counterproductive in the con-
text of a discussion that has salary implications and may arouse defensiveness
against perceived manager criticism.
In recognition of these potential limitations, many companies have di-
rected managers to have discussions with employees about career opportu-
nities at the six-month interval between yearly performance reviews, or at
least once a year separate from the discussion of performance. Managers
and employees typically report more positive outcomes when there is a
dedicated focus on the employee™s career development.

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

Engagement Practice 33: Build an Effective Talent
Review and Succession Management Process
About one-¬fth of all management positions across all functions, regions,
and industries are expected to become vacant between now and 2010. As
a result, the need for succession planning has gotten the attention of more
companies in recent years.12 Only 34 percent of U.S. companies report that
they are effective at identifying future leaders,13 and four in ten senior lead-
ers fail in their new jobs within their ¬rst eighteen months on the job.14
Many companies are using new terminology, such as ˜˜talent review
process™™ or ˜˜acceleration pool development,™™ to describe what was tradi-
tionally called succession planning. These new terms re¬‚ect the increasing
dif¬culty of preparing leaders and talented professionals for organizational
opportunities that may not yet exist in a rapidly changing market environ-
ment. It is also widely acknowledged that many succession candidates are
never promoted into the positions for which they were slotted.
Here are some succession management strategies that are proving to be

• Create alignment between projected company needs and individual
aspirations and abilities by conducting in-depth assessments of tar-
geted employees against required competencies to assess promotabil-
ity and developmental needs.
• Have the process codesigned by human resources and line manage-
• Have higher levels of management review the assessments, eventually


. 19
( 40 .)