Seven Surefire Ways to Lose Your Best Workers

  1. Failing to recognize and reward. Employers don’t have to provide pizza every Friday to reward employees for doing their jobs; they get a paycheck for that. But failing to recognize and reward those extra efforts of teams and individuals is a surefire way to lead them out the door, or at least lose some of the drive and enthusiasm that produced their recent results. Rewards can range from simple expressions of appreciation from leaders to formal recognition programs. The point is to systematically encourage behavior and action you want repeated in this and other employees.
  2. Too much support for the status quo. Sometimes, those at the top begin to resist change. CEOs and other leaders often built companies from the ground up or brought them to the pinnacle of success. But owning the status quo too tightly and becoming stagnant in polices, innovation or employee development can cause some of your most successful self-starters to run for the hills, or at least a career ladder at your competitor.
  3. Playing the blame game. Often, stagnation comes from people pointing fingers rather than innovating. Blaming especially is a problem for managers who throw individuals or team members under the bus. The company culture should show that mistakes are correctable, and managers should be held accountable if they try to pin all issues on their workers.
  4. Being dishonest. Employees don’t want to work for people who lie, no matter the justification. Paternalistic organizations often treat employees as too delicate to know the truth, and they craft misleading communication. The employees you most want to engage and retain are the most likely to be turned off by dishonesty, especially if the lie gets them in hot water with customers or fellow workers.
  5. Failing to communicate. There’s lying, and then there’s not telling. A culture that wants to “protect” employees from bad news such as sinking profits does a disservice to workers and the company at large by withholding information employees might have a right to know. For example, individuals and the all-powerful rumor mill will create their own ideas about why hiring suddenly slows or benefits change.
  6. Micromanaging. Your top performers work hard because they’re driven by internal or external factors. The very people who perform best for your company are the ones most turned off by micromanagement. Second guessing decisions, reviewing everything an employee does, and setting policies that regulate every facet of their work might seem OK to leaders, who just want to make sure things run smoothly. But employees ultimately view these behaviors as lack of trust. You can hand out pizza and days off all you want, but workers who feel they are not trusted to do their jobs won’t feel their skills and commitment are appreciated on a day-to-day basis.
  7. Worrying about the wrong things. Sometimes, micromanaging stems from worry and a focus on trying to control everything that happens in a workplace. It’s impossible to control every behavior and action that takes place under your roof or brand. Employees need guidelines that pave the way, but top performers need some room to breathe. If you knee-jerk react to any employee problem with new rules confining everyone’s performance or contradicting company and employee values, you lose much more than you gain. Focus on what’s most important.


The best employees make your company even better. Engage and retain workers headed for success. We can help you identify and engage top performers with our Fast Track to Success program. Learn more here or by calling us at 425-485-3221.