Stupefaction: that feeling of distress you have when you realize you’re responsible for good people leaving your firm.

Here’s a Fun-Fact from my Career Reinvent Boot Camp programs: 50% of participants would prefer to reinvent their careers (change what they do) without leaving your organization.

Unfortunately, most of them end up leaving your firm.

Many of these motivated, experienced individuals would love to remain with your organization. They’ve invested time. They appreciate the culture and feel a connection to the organization. Yet they leave. In fact, you give the push.

Eight Things That Are Driving Good People Away from Your Firm:

Here’s what’s happening to create this costly, sad outcome:

  1. Career development is an after-thought in your organization.
  2. Managers aren’t trained on how to support their employees’ career development.
  3. Managers aren’t held accountable for career development.
  4. There’s little support for shifting jobs internally.
  5. There’s even less support for individuals striving to make significant changes in what they do.
  6. Managers are reluctant to let their best people move to different roles—thus setting the stage for a likely exit.
  7. Most career development emphasis in organizations is ladder-focused when many professionals are more interested in lateral opportunities that promote growth.
  8. Over time, people change their priorities and interests and your systems don’t take this into account.

It’s this last one (people change) that goes mostly unrecognized in our broken career development systems.

Think about it:

  • Almost no one signs on to a job expecting or wanting to do it forever.
  • The work someone found exciting and rewarding a few years ago no longer has the same impact.
  • Our sense of purpose changes over time.
  • Good people, the kind you want to build your future around, want new experiences and fresh adventures.

Yes, people want to feel challenged and pushed to learn. They want to find ways to apply their skills and accumulated wisdom in new ways that contribute to causes they care about in their lives.

Six Ideas to Help You Fix This Problem:

1. Rethink everything about career development in your firm.

2. Teach and coach your managers to make career discussions and development actions a regular part of their work.

3. Kill career development as simply a component of annual performance evaluations and make it a key component of a manager’s weekly work.

4. Evaluate your managers’ commitment and effectiveness with this critical career development work.

5. Offer career design guidance and mentoring. Teach your employees to take ownership of their careers and help them design their “next” in alignment with their interests, abilities, purpose, and the organization’s needs.

6. Embed a process similar to my  Career Reinvent Framework™ in your career development work:

  • Determination: Assess whether it’s time for a change.
  • Self-Discovery: Help individuals tune in to their best selves, superpowers, and backstories as clues to what they might do next.
  • Exploration: Go wide and divergent with ideas and then add in the filters important to the individual to narrow the options for this next stage.
  • Experiment: Create opportunities for individuals to try before they buy.
  • Preparation: Identify and support additional education needs and create orderly systems that ensure succession goes smoothly.
  • Launch: It’s Go-Time. Mentor and coach for success and eventually start the process over.

And finally, for those who still opt to leave, treat them like the valued alumni they are. Let them know they are welcome back, and their referrals are always welcome.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

The Great Resignation is more of a Great Capitulation on the part of management. Like so many problems in our organizations, that sage Pogo was right: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Art's Signature