June 28, 2017

Top 10 Reasons Executives Quit

Dale Robinette

Dale Robinette

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I have had several key executives from organizations reach out to me looking for better opportunities. Of course, the first question I ask is, “Why are you leaving?”

Losing executives can have significant negative impact on an organization. A common complaint from CEOs is the lack of talent in this tight labor market. There are many companies that are not able to take on more business due to a lack of adequate resources. There are others that feel they are lacking in leadership and therefore rely heavily on a couple of key executives. According to the US Department of Labor and Statistics, turnover can cost the company 33% of an employee’s total compensation.

The trend that I’m seeing now is key executives are leaving. Many of these folks will not only leave a hole in the executive staff, but they can also impact employee morale, leading to additional turnover.

Management needs to understand why these folks are leaving their companies. As a CEO Coach, I have observed highly compensated employees tend to leave for similar reasons to lower compensated employees. Not in any particular order, below is a summary 10 reasons people leave their jobs. 

  • Bad Boss – The number one reason why people quit their jobs is because they do not have a positive relationship with their boss.
  • Work/Life Balance – Key executives understand they have big roles, but they often come to the realization that little Sally is now 16 years old and the minimal time they had together has decreased with Sally’s new driver's license. Expectations of more responsibility requiring longer hours and more time on the road can lead to a potential exit.
  • Professional Growth – New roles and responsibilities provide new challenges and convey a path to the next higher position. The minute the next higher position is not a possibility, prepare for an exit.
  • Use of Skills and Competence – Employees not only want to use their wide range of skills, but they want to continue to develop and grow. Being placed into roles that do not align with their professional goals can be motivation to leave.
  • Empowerment – While it is up to the employee to embrace autonomy, they are looking for a culture that encourages it.
  • Key Contribution to the Company’s Strategy – People want to know they are making an impact.
  • Making a Difference in the World – While this seems to be tied to the millennial generation, the concept is not new.
  • Corporate Culture – Culture is comprised of many things like compensation, benefits and perks, but also things like the physical and emotional work environment.
  • Organizations Financial Stability – Add layoffs, salary freezes, budget cuts or poor sales to the mix and people tend to feel unstable.
  • Recognition – While it may not be the sole reason people leave, they do know when they’re contributions aren’t recognized.

The impact to organizations when key executives leave can be crippling. Unfortunately, this is often what it takes for leaders to reflect on their shortcomings. Leading organizations have strategies in place to ensure company goals align with executive goals.

Dale Robinette is an internationally recognized business advisor and CEO Coach in San Diego California.

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