In today’s highly competitive market for talent, search professionals are constantly looking to find out why candidates aren’t satisfied with their current position. Once we zero in on the reason for a candidate’s discontent, it’s easier to determine the individual’s needs and achieve our ultimate goal – finding the perfect fit for our client.
So what are candidates most unhappy about at their current firm these days? What are the reasons a normally fulfilled senior executive would take our call to discuss an opportunity?
We’re currently seeing three prevalent leadership missteps that motivate top talent to think twice about new opportunities. All are avoidable. If your firm wants to retain its valued employees, don’t make these three critical leadership mistakes.
No. 1. Failing to reward performance through compensation, promotion, bonus or recognition.
Typically, larger firms structure their compensation programs with little flexibility. That rigidity prevents leaders from acting on and incentivizing good talent. Highly effective leaders figure out a way around the compensation structure to retain their best people. Those who don’t will lose the talent.
What to Do? Develop some fluidity around your compensation structure. If you see a new hire breaking out from his or her peer or an existing team member that finally is performing well, do what’s needed to reward them – recognize them and support their progress. If there’s no reward structure in place, figure out how to bonus them. Spend a few thousand dollars and send them to Hawaii or the Bahamas to convey the right message. Without recognition and some monetary reward, they’ll be wide open to taking our call.
No. 2. Demotivating the team by not valuing opinions, taking credit for the team’s work, or propagating negative energy.
It’s difficult to believe there are leaders in place that just aren’t positive people. The glass is always half empty for them. Individuals at the firm are always doing less than they should or habitually underperform – at least in the eyes of the sour manager. Unfortunately, previous industry experience, proven success, perspective and credibility have no bearing on how these doom-and-gloomers treat their teams.
What to Do? Leaders with this type of mentality are a cancer to growing organizations. Their behavior will accelerate turnover and sully the company’s reputation. Time and again, we’ve seen a single negative manager cripple a firm’s ability to attract the best people. Word travels fast when there is an ogre in your organization. If this is a C-suite executive, then the board needs to take action. If it’s a senior leader, then the CEO needs to be decisive in getting rid of the problem leader or model the proper behavior to build a positive environment that drives success.
No. 3 Lack of coaching, constructive criticism, or professional development for employees.
Some leaders simply lack the gravitas or industry insight to develop their high potential players. However, without an opportunity to build additional skills and take on more responsibility, talent on the team is going to be open to looking elsewhere.
What to Do? The firm needs to support its talent through educational programs and advanced training. High-performing individuals need to feel like they are progressing in their career. In many cases, it’s more about learning and fine-tuning their abilities than it is about compensation. Leaders should maintain a list of high performing talent, and firms should create a game plan for the ongoing development of their careers. That plan should include a roadmap that provides both upward mobility in the corporate structure and mentoring to take their careers to the next level. If it’s necessary to bring in external training or allow time off work to pursue credentials, then make it happen.
The Bottom Line
It is indeed a competitive market in financial services for talent, but firms who avoid critical leadership mistakes will be more successful in retaining employees. It’s actually easier and more productive to keep employees happy than endure staff turnover. In doing right by your people, most of the calls from search professionals will just roll into voicemail.