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What the What the
to Give
to Receive

What the What the
to Receive
to Give

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To illustrate further, here are some common mismatches that occur
between what Gen Xers may expect to get from an employer and what
Boomer managers may expect to give:

Gen Xers may expect to get: Boomer managers may expect to give:
Plenty of vacation time Three weeks vacation only after ¬ve
Promotions based purely on merit Promotions based largely on
Hands-off supervision Close supervision
Self-paced computer training Classroom training only
Frequent constructive feedback Feedback only when they screw up

Not all mismatches occur because of generational differences, but most
of us have certainly observed such situations and can vouch for the fact
that, if not openly discussed, any single mismatch can lead to con¬‚ict, lost
productivity, and turnover.

Allstate™s Written ˜˜Psychological Contract™™
Some employers, such as Allstate Insurance Company, have actually
created formal statements outlining what employee and employer can
expect from each other.
Because the company believes employee loyalty improves when
both company and employees clearly know what is expected, Allstate
provides this ˜˜partnership statement™™ to every employee:

You should expect Allstate to:

• Offer work that is meaningful and challenging.
• Promote an environment that encourages open and construc-
tive dialogue.
• Recognize you for your accomplishments.
• Provide competitive pay and rewards based on your perform-
• Advise you on your performance through regular feedback.
• Create learning opportunities through education and job as-

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

• Support you in de¬ning career goals.
• Provide you with information and resources to perform suc-
• Promote an environment that is inclusive and free from bias.
• Foster dignity and respect in all interactions.
• Establish an environment that promotes a balance of work and
professional life.

Allstate expects you to:

• Perform at levels that signi¬cantly increase the company™s abil-
ity to outperform the competition.
• Take on assignments critical to meeting business objectives.
• Willingly listen and act upon feedback.
• Demonstrate a high level of commitment to achieving com-
pany goals.
• Exhibit no bias in interactions with colleagues and customers.
• Behave consistently with Allstate™s ethical standards.
• Take personal responsibility for each transaction with customers
and for fostering their trust.
• Continually improve processes to address customers™ needs.6

When an employee realizes that the employer cannot meet a key ex-
pectation in the contract, there is often a feeling of having been betrayed,
as if a real contract has been broken in bad faith. This can become the
˜˜shock™™ or turning point that begins the downward cycle toward disen-
gagement and departure.
The more open the discussion that takes place about mutual expecta-
tions, the more probability of a satisfactory match. This doesn™t happen as
frequently as it should, partly because interviewees often feel powerless in
the interview process and are reluctant to ask questions, and partly because
interviewers are too rushed, or are simply afraid that if they tell the whole
truth about the job or workplace, the recruit will not accept the offer.
The more clearly an employee understands his or her own expecta-
tions, the higher the probability of a match. Many new employees fresh
out of college, however, are only dimly aware of their wants and needs.

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The problem is compounded when the organization is also not clear about
what it expects, which is often the case.
Companies frequently make the mistake of thinking in terms of offer-
ing ˜˜the most™™ or receiving ˜˜the best,™™ when they would be better advised
to think in terms of ˜˜¬t.™™ For example, many companies seek to hire only
the ˜˜top graduates™™ with the highest grade point averages, when some of
these individuals, because of their cerebral bent or analytical nature, may
not ¬t the company™s expectation that they become outgoing, street-smart
sales people.
If an employee and an employer discover after the hire that they have
a serious mismatch of expectations, it may be in their best interests to shake
hands and part ways. Of course, this is not always easy to do.
The psychological contract changes over time as the expectations of
the employee and the organization change. With each change in expecta-
tions, open communication serves to keep both parties in alignment, or
may lead to a mutual agreement to renegotiate or break the contract.

How to Recognize the Warning Signs of Unmet
It is obviously far better to read the signs of potential unmet expectations
prior to hiring than afterwards, so be alert to the following during the
interview process:

• The interviewee asks few questions, or no questions.
• The interviewee asks lots of questions about one particular issue, and
you have doubts about your ability or willingness to meet the implied
• The interviewee™s previous employer had a culture and working
conditions that are very different from your own organization.
• When you ask the question, ˜˜Why did you leave your former em-
ployer?™™ the interviewee mentions a reason that raises doubts about
your own employer™s ability to meet the implied expectation.
• You feel rushed to get through the interview.
• After the interview, you cannot recall discussing your expectations
or those of the interviewee.

After hiring, look for these danger signs that the employee may have
begun to disengage after realizing an important expectation will not be

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

• There is a sudden change in the employee™s demeanor, indicating
either suppressed anger or withdrawal.
• The employee avoids greeting you or making eye contact.
• The employee stops participating in discussions at meetings.
• The employee™s performance drops off.
• The employee is increasingly absent.

Of course, you may not need to watch for any of these warning signs
if the employee is assertive enough to come to you and directly voices
dissatisfaction. However, as we know, many employees, especially younger
and less experienced ones, are often reluctant to take that step.

Obstacles to Meeting Mutual Expectations
There are several obstacles to forging the unwritten psychological contract
with a new employee, not the least of which is the fact that it is not typically
put into writing, thus greatly increasing the potential for misunderstanding.
Here are few others:

• The candidate lacks self-knowledge about wants, values, and expec-
• The hiring manager is inexperienced or untrained at interviewing.
• The hiring manager is in a hurry to hire and rushes to get through
the interview.
• The hiring manager and search team have created such a long list of
ideal candidate characteristics that no single candidate could realisti-
cally possess them all.
• The hiring manager or other managers in the organization are in-
creasingly unwilling to adapt to the changing expectations of
younger generations of workers or to accommodate the expectations
of diverse populations.
• The hiring manager believes that new hires should adapt to whatever
is asked of them and be happy just to have a job.
• The organization™s HR policies and management practices are out-
dated compared to competitors for talent in the industry and the
• The organization™s recruitment advertising and related literature
make implied promises that the organization cannot deliver.

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• The candid interviewer faces the problem of getting the blame for
failing to meet hiring quotas. ˜˜You told them WHAT?!!!™™ from an
executive certainly puts a damper on honesty.
• The hiring manager is aware of negative working conditions the new
hire will encounter, such as a pending downsizing or merger, or con-
¬‚ict within the immediate work team, and is afraid that mentioning
it will cause the new hire to withdraw from the interview process or
decline an offer.

Engagement Practices for Matching Mutual
The following practices for fostering realistic mutual expectations are fre-
quently utilized by employer-of-choice organizations and have been found
to signi¬cantly raise the probability of new hire success, satisfaction, and
longer-term retention:

Engagement Practice 1:
Conduct Realistic Job Previews with Every Job Candidate
This practice is the most common way of addressing potentially unrealistic
expectations. It involves initiating a frank and open discussion of job activi-
ties, performance expectations, immediate work team, working conditions,
rules and policies, work culture, manager™s style, and the organization™s
¬nancial stability, or other topics where surprises need to be minimized.
Because of the need to sell applicants on the position and the company,
realistic job previews (RJPs) should obviously accentuate the positives, but
not gloss over potential negatives that, when later experienced after hiring,
could cause the new hire to abruptly quit or disengage.
This is a controversial practice among many managers who fear the risk
of scaring off and losing talented candidates. The experience of companies
who have implemented this practice has shown that some candidates will
indeed withdraw when an organization™s ˜˜warts™™ are openly discussed. On
the other hand, candidates who turn out to be good ¬ts for the organization
and culture, tend not to be turned off by RJPs. Rather, in many cases, they
are often actually more motivated to meet the challenge head on.
For example, GeoAccess, a Kansas City company, makes sure that all
job applicants are made aware of the way people communicate in the com-
pany™s fast-paced culture. It™s a style of interacting that is direct, frank,

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

spontaneous, and sometimes blunt. In meetings, coworkers give one an-
other feedback that is honest, but may hurt. The company™s human re-
source director, Greg Addison, wants to make sure that job applicants are
made aware of this aspect of the company™s culture. ˜˜Many companies
don™t understand their own culture,™™ he says, ˜˜so they select mis¬ts.™™
If you do lose candidates by divulging the truth about the job or work-
place, then you probably would have lost them anyway within the ¬rst few
months on the job. By discussing the truth up front, and allowing candi-
dates to opt out, you have actually saved the cost of having to replace and
Some managers even go so far as to mention former employees who
quit or were terminated because they could not adapt to a particular aspect
of a challenging job, some working condition, or the company™s culture.
Two important caution about conducting realistic job previews: First,
before opening the company™s kimono and showing its warts, interviewers
should be trained to ¬rst ask the candidates about their expectations. Often,
in listening to their answers, it is only too obvious that they would not ¬t
the job or the culture, and you can save yourself the necessity of revealing
the bad and the ugly to them. Second, be careful how you describe the
negative aspects. Some hiring managers have been known to go overboard
in describing the negatives, or describe them inaccurately because they
have not personally experienced them. After all, what appears to be a nega-
tive to a hiring manager may actually be seen as a challenge to an applicant.
There is an art to conducting a realistic job preview without having it
turn into a horrifying job preview. For example, it is honest, but not neces-
sarily alarming, to say:
˜˜You should be aware that there are negotiations going on that could
result in the company being acquired. Should that happen, it could mean
signi¬cant new career opportunities for many employees. It could also
mean that a few people could lose their positions. Your position is one that
we do not expect to be adversely affected. For those who might be im-
pacted, we would provide career transition services to help them land on
their feet in a new position.™™
On the other hand, interviewees would most likely be frightened off if
you said, ˜˜You should be aware that our company might be acquired, in
which case your job could be eliminated. There are no guarantees.™™ What-


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