Tell Me You Love Me–A Tale of Talent Loss and Retention

I recently spoke with a friend, a very accomplished professional in her field, working for a well-known MNC. She’d considered leaving them for another company (not a competitor), and they had just increased her overall package, so she was staying put.

I asked her what had happened.

She told me that she really enjoyed the company, the culture and colleagues and the work..

“So why were you set to leave them ?”

“Well, I really wasn’t that interested in leaving, but they (the other company) approached me. I said no, but they came back, and I guess I was flattered, and they caught me at a weak moment. We went back and forth , and they ended up making me an offer much more quickly than I thought imaginable, and were pushing me hard to accept.

It was a good offer, more than what I was making. But the money wasn’t the biggest issue–I thought this new job might give me more of a work-life balance, as my travel and workload has been way too much, and I’ve been feeling burned out for some time.”

“And?”

Well, before I answer that, the main reason I was thinking about leaving was that I really didn’t feel they appreciated all the work I’ve been doing the past few years, busting my behind. It’s taken a toll on me and the family. Actually, in thinking about it now, that WAS the main reason; I felt underappreciated and way overworked.”

“And?”

“I told them (the other company) I’d have to tell my employer I was going to leave, and would let them know the outcome. And that’s what I did. I told one of my bosses I was quitting. They went ballistic, which surprised me a bit. And THEN they told me how much they loved me, and how could I possibly quit, and so forth.

One of my other bosses immediately called me from Europe to tell me how much my work meant to him, and how sorry he was for not telling me earlier how valuable I was. I even got a note from the global CEO saying he knew how much I liked working there. And you know, I really DO like the work, it was the workload, which they promised to change around.

So I told the other company I’d gotten a counter-offer and just couldn’t accept another job. They were not happy, obviously, but not much they could do.

And the truth is it wasn’t the counter-offer. It was that they finally got it, and saw how much my contributions and work had really helped them in the region. And for the first time, they listened to me on how I felt.”

3 lessons:

If you’re an:

  • Employee, don’t wait for compliments to be showered on you. Learn how to politely and regularly toot your own horn, or no one hears the music. Don’t wait for brinksmanship with another offer; that’s fraught with far too many variables, most of which don’t end well.
  • Employer, never take your talent for granted. Ever. It’s not a job; it’s a relationship, and like every worthwhile relationship, requires regular nurturing, support and on-going dialogue. In many cases, it is recognition and impact that people cherish more than cash.
  • Aspiring employer, make sure you know what the motivating factors are to get someone on board, and don’t assume larger pay is the main factor. Indeed, if it is a senior hire, all the senior management, from the top down, should be involved.

Attention must be paid.” -Arthur Miller

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