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Erika Andersen, Contributor
I cover how people & organizations work, and how they can work better.

Leadership
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8/27/2012 @ 8:22AM |12,306 views
Why Some Companies Lose Their Best People - And Others Don't
The other day, I was talking to a client who is in the process of losing one of his best people to a bigger and more well-known competitor. He wasn’t happy about it – but he’s a goodguy, so he was supportive of his employee and happy for her. She loves working for him, but the offer was just too good for her to pass up. He got his company to put together a counter-offer, but he knew it was less about the money and more about the prestige and the opportunity (bigger job; more upward potential).
If someone leaves your company in that situation, congratulate yourself ongrowing a great employee and start figuring out how best to replace him or her. There’s not much you could have done differently; you will inevitably lose some people in circumstances like this.
However, that’s not why most people leave their companies. Eric Jackson wrote an excellent post last winter that I just ran across this morning,Why Companies Are Terrible at Selecting, Retaining andMotivating Their Talent. He offers ten reasons, but they really all come down to this:
most companies give lip service to the importance of good employees, but they don’t actually treat them as though they’re important.
Companies that keep most of their great people, at every level, treat them like valued partners in the business’ success. Here’s how that looks:
Include them: People (especially greatpeople) like to feel that they’re an integral part of the success of their company. Two simple ways good companies do this: 1) let people know what’s happening and why, and 2) give them as much influence over decisions as possible. So, first, be honest and consistent in communicating important information about the company. It’s an awful feeling to find out critical news about your company byreading about it in the paper. Communicate both the great stuff and the difficult stuff first to your employees. Second, include employees in the decision-making process whenever you can. This can be anything from asking for input on employee surveys, and then actually responding to what you hear in substantive ways, to creating a culture where authority to make specific decisions is pushed as fardown into the company as possible.
Support them: In companies that are bad at keeping great people, employees tend to feel that they’re twisting in the wind most of the time. For example, my niece has been working at a job for the past few years where she has had a total of six conversations with her boss, three of them by phone. The message is clear: do your work and don’t bother me. She islooking for another job. Supporting your people can take many forms, but the ones that have the biggest impact are those that let them know you genuinely care about their success: checking in with them regularly; doing your best to remove obstacles and provide needed resources; asking about their professional hopes and finding ways to help them grow.
Offer Great Work: Good people want to bechallenged. At companies where the employees aren’t a priority, work is assigned based on the company’s needs, and generally is to be done in a prescribed way. Companies that keep their good people make more of an effort to match employee passion and aptitude with job requirements, and they also encourage their employees to find better, faster, more efficient ways of doing things.
Acknowledge TheirContributions: Someone very dear to me has just left a job where, even though he basically worked magic for six years with tiny budgets and no support from his management, he had no idea whether anyone even noticed until he announced his departure – at which point they grudgingly acknowledged that he would be hard to replace. Most people want to be appreciated for their hard work and good...
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