When high-performing talent quits en masse it’s a red flag.
I once worked for a tech company where this was the case. The day before I joined two of the top two salespeople quit.
Seemed weird. I asked why they left…
“Ohhh no reason. It was time for them to move on anyway.”
In the weeks that followed more top performers began to quit. It was a good thing for me because I didn’t have the industry knowledge and needed to learn on the job.
No chance they would fire me while great talent rushed for the exits.
It became clear, quickly, what was going on. A few old school leaders had a boys club going on in the senior ranks. Anyone who tried to make change got the ass. I became a high-performer at that company … and then quit too.
High performers quit for these reasons
Pain in the ass bosses
Nothing worse than a toxic a-hole boss to ruin your day.
Life is too short to have the oxygen drained out of your lungs dealing with a bad boss.
Thanks to modern-day leadership trainers such as Simon Sinek, there is now a new class of leaders who understand how to treat humans well so that a business thrives.
No point getting sloppy seconds.
If your boss is bad then go on LinkedIn and start talking to recruiters. You’ll have plenty of opportunities within days.
Once you get to the interview stage, don’t choose a job.
Nope. Choose a leader. Interview them. Ask them hard questions such as “How are you going to help me be successful?”
Customer needs that never get addressed
Some businesses completely ignore customers. They harp on about being customer-first and say “the customer” a hundred times in every meeting.
Yet they do nothing for them.
A group of powerful customers once told my employer “Your tech platform keeps going down and it’s costing us sales.”
We’d had back-to-back outages for a year.
Can’t blame them, really. My employer did nothing about it. They shuffled some paper and pretended to run a tender process. No replacement tech platform ever got found.
We tried to detail the issue in as many different ways as we could. We even got the CEO involved. Leaders handballed the issue round and round the football oval of corporate mediocrity and got nowhere.
The truth was everyone who touched the issue was too comfortable.
They went home with a nice paycheck and had no real incentive to do anything about it. Because there were so many employees involved with the issue, it was impossible to fire everyone.
So two-tenths of stuff all took place.
Over time high-performers quit because they couldn’t sell to customers knowing they would face back-to-back tech outages when all our competitors had up-time guarantees.
“It’s all about the customer” catchphrases are all talk.
High performers work for employers who solve customer issues quickly and show care through action, not fake-nice words.
Bonuses that keep changing (downwards)
When you negotiate a salary it’s hard to get paid well. Employers are incentivized to pay you the least amount possible to maximize profits.
That’s capitalism baby!
(It is what it is. Not here to debate economic models.)
One thing many high-performers ask for in their job offer negotiation is a bonus or incentive. Why? It’s free and gives employers guaranteed ROI. If you hit the KPIs, your employer does well, and you walk away with a bonus.
If you don’t you just get what you were going to get anyway: a salary.
Bonuses are not a new invention. What’s new is employers that consistently mess with incentives to save money. When incentives aren’t transparent and continue to trend downwards for no reason, high-performers quit.
Life is too short to get paid less than you’re worth.
Poor product development
The rate of change is so fast that a good product can quickly become obsolete.
Look at the buy now pay later industry.
The product was considered cutting edge a few years back. Then Apple created their own version and made it free. Pwahhhh…an entire cannibalistic industry that exploits consumers, gone overnight.
When product managers get cushy the demand falls off a cliff. High performers pay attention to trends.
They know that if a product:
- isn’t constantly updated
- doesn’t keep user testing top of mind
- doesn’t have new features deployed in a timely manner
… the entire business model can collapse.
This used to take years to happen. Now, bad or easy to replicate products get wiped out in a few months — Peloton, Zoom, Netflix, Celsius.
Stay close to good products. It makes your career 10x easier.
Lack of career growth
The HR salespeople sell the career dream in job ads, interviews, and recruitment done through challenges or meetups.
It’s all theory.
Most companies don’t have clearly defined career paths or ways to get promoted. It’s left up to the individual to decode the Da Vinci Code and figure out how to take on more responsibility.
High-performers do great work. They then test the waters to see if leaders above them appreciate that work. They sniff around to see if they keep doing it, whether it will help further their careers. Smart.
If it doesn’t then they count themselves lucky to have figured it out and move on to another employer.
The stupid thing is career growth is about more than money or bonuses. For many people, career growth is:
- More time with the family
- Going to industry seminars
- More leadership responsibility
- A change in job title to level up their LinkedIn
- Opportunities to upskill or do online education
- A feeling of appreciation…which is free and takes zero effort
Secret: in a job interview, if a prospective employer can’t name multiple employees who’ve got access to career growth opportunities and how they did it, they probably don’t exist. And if you ask to speak to one of the employee examples they gave and they say no — red flag!
Some companies are great.
But their processes suck. You spend more time doing paperwork than doing your actual job. I worked at a company like this.
Every process got shipped offshore. You needed multiple approvals to take a day off from leaders in another country.
Those overseas leaders were so removed from who you were and your job, that they’d decline or ignore anything you sent them.
I once had to get six signatures for a $3.50 latte that accidentally got charged to my corporate card. Not a bad company, but too hard to do business.
Excessive paperwork and long-winded processes with multiple handoffs drain your workday, forcing you to work free overtime and be away from your family for longer than need be.
So, high performers don’t put up with it.
They just find a digitally native company that understands the value of giving their employees decent productivity software and auto-approvals for stray $3.50 lattes.
When top talent quits, it’s a sign of business stagnation.
Become a high-performer and go to employers that understand modern business. If you’re on your way to becoming a high performer, watch what the high-performers do and pay attention to when they quit.
If they quit, you can always follow them.