Why should I work for you?

A previous post on the ‘5P’s of a buyer’ has been quite popular, and I’ve been asked to explain its origin.

Their roots lie in the fundamentals of problem-solving leadership; how can we work together to solve an issue profitably and to mutual benefit?  

Let me illustrate.

I am sometimes asked to be a third party participant in the debriefing process of a departing senior manager.  The requirement for a debrief is obvious.  Out-standing problem-solving leaders are rare. A friend of mine, David Bodmer, founded EMR, one of the most successful marketing recruitment agencies in the UK.  He would tell me, frequently, that, in even a recession, “the problem is never a shortage of good jobs, it’s always a shortage of good people.”

So, if you have good people, keep them. But if you can’t, you need to know whether the departure a one-off or the first drip of a deluge.

The reasons for going are illuminating, and cast some light on the multitude of reasons why people go—and how you might entice them to stay. Spoiler alert: the pursuit of lucre is not in the top 3.

Senior executives are the director of problem-solving resources. They identify and prioritise the problems to be solved, and corral the corporations problem-solving resources to solve the problem quickly, to the greatest benefit of all, and at the lowest physical and psychological cost. 

Preventing, interfering or not acknowledging these activities fuels departure.

People don’t leave organisations. People leave other people.

When your brightest and best wave good-bye, it is because they don’t want to stay. Fruitful recruiters sense this, and the most productive push at an open door.

So in the final days, without (or with!) axes to grind, what reasons do exiting executive give for leaving? The responses fall into four broad categories and in order of importance they are;

1. I am a problem-solving hero.  Top executives are like professional athletes. They may not say it but their body language screams, “pick me, pick me,” when the CEO is announcing the team for the big game. They want to be with the best players and thrown against the toughest opposition. It is away they test themselves. With success and the passage of time they seek respect and some independence.  If any of this is absent, they are happy to be traded.

2. Pleasure. Being in the business has to be fun. I should feel a portion of the enjoyment coming from my hobby of cycling, or fishing or bee-keeping etc. If you want to encourage your people to leave take the joy out of their day.  Be either ditheringly indecisive, or aggressively micro-manage. Either of these behaviours will have your top tier doing emailed resumé blasts to LinkedIn buddies or Facebook friends.

3. Pride. Executives might be top-tier team players but they still want to say, “I did this.” They want to praise their team and they want peer recognition. They want some time in the sun and not just in the shadow. Any line manager that prevents this will see their stars climbing on a podium elsewhere.

4. Pay. In 90% of the exit interviews I have performed, money is mentioned last. It only becomes important in the absence of the first 3 factors.  If your top team is there only for the pay check you’ve lost the game. They are playing for themselves. Not you, not the team.  

Why should I work for you?

Naturally, as a team leader, you would hope your team members would be giving of their best, with enjoyment and pride in what they achieve. You would hope too that they feel compensated appropriately for what they do.




Are you strong enough to take the test?

At your next team meeting, hand out the audit tool and ask your team members to complete the table. Place their responses on the wall and review the output.  What improvements can you make collectively?


Simon LuntComment