Keeping the People Report
LB@keepingthepeople.combullet (913) 620-4645bullet
E-Letter Volume 10 Spring Issue, 2007

Leigh Branham,
Keeping the People, Inc.

In this issue:

  • Understanding The 7 Reasons in Your Organization
  • Taking Inventory of Your Obstacles

Understanding The 7 Reasons in Your Organization

"If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem."

-- Krishnamurti

In the months that have passed since The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave was published, I have had the opportunity to assist several companies in analyzing their root causes of turnover and employee disengagement, and taking steps to eliminate them. These experiences have served to remind me that every organization has its own unique history, issues, culture, market position, goals, and practices. The same can be said for different units or locations of the same organization, which can be unique sub-cultures unto themselves.

Leaders who want their companies to be employers of choice (have the talent they need to achieve their business objectives) must first diagnose what's standing in their way. The answers are different, of course, for each employee. One disengages and leaves for lack of recognition, while another is bored in her job and moves on for a more challenging position. Managers must know their employees as individuals, understand their expectations, and try to balance and align their needs with those of the organization. This is hard work, and too often underestimated or never acknowledged by many managers.

The seven main reasons employees leave (and stay) are remarkably consistent from organization to organization. In other words, the primary motivation for a given employee deciding to give discretionary effort or withhold that effort can almost invariably be traced to one of the seven reasons. On the macro level, however, I have found that each organization, mainly because of cultural factors or organizational change issues, tends to be impacted more by two or three of the seven causes at any given time.

A company that is struggling to attract customers, for example, will have significant numbers of employees thinking of leaving because they may lack confidence in senior leaders (reason #7), feel it's not what they signed up for (reason #1), and see little hope for career growth or even job security (reason #4). Another company, known for its "burn and churn" culture, will lose key employees who want more balance in their lives (reason #6), and those whose managers are too busy managing budgets and operations to spend time coaching and giving feedback (reason #3).


Taking Inventory of Your Obstacles

"Problems are only opportunities in work clothes."

-- Henry J. Kaiser

But it's not enough just to diagnose the operative reasons employees are leaving. Whatever those reasons may be, there remains the problem of overcoming the hurdles to correcting and preventing them. These obstacles can be formidable, but they must be faced and overcome if leaders are truly committed to making their organizations great places to work. Here then is a checklist of the most common obstacles I have encountered in working with client companies, organized by the seven reasons employees disengage and leave:

    Reason #1: The job or work environment not as promised or expected.


      ___Pressure to hire in a hurry
      ___Not giving candid and realistic job previews
      ___Recruiting messages that mislead applicants
      ___Employee failure to ask the right questions

    Reason #2: The job did not fit the person or provide enough challenge.


      ___Pressure to hire in a hurry
      ___Outdated job descriptions
      ___Not understanding of true competencies needed for job success
      ___Behavioral interviewing not being used
      ___Too few candidates/inadequate sourcing
      ___Inadequate pre-hire assessment
      ___Managers not evaluated on quality of hire
      ___Managers failing to delegate/assign appropriate challenges
      ___Candidates lack of self-understanding

    Reason #3: Employee didn't receive enough performance coaching or feedback.


      ___Managers overloaded with work (no time to observe employee performance, document, or coach)
      ___Managers not trained in performance coaching
      ___Manager avoidance of confrontation and conflict
      ___Older managers unwilling to give as much feedback as young employees need
      ___Employee reluctance to ask for feedback

    Reason #4: Employee didn't see opportunity for career growth/learning or advancement.


      ___Managers block internal movement
      ___Managers uncomfortable with career coaching
      ___Managers not rewarded for employee development
      ___Employees lack career path information
      ___Company not growing and creating opportunities
      ___Company not placing enough emphasis on lateral movement and growing in place
      ___Lack of training and learning opportunities
      ___No individual developmental planning process
      ___Employees reluctant to speak with supervisors

    Reason #5: Employee didn't feel valued or recognized.


      ___Managers think they are too busy to observe employee's contributions
      ___Managers don't believe in praising small contributions
      ___Managers untrained in basic principles of effective recognition
      ___Manager or organization failure to link pay with performance
      ___Inadequate communication about how pay decisions are made
      ___Pay inequity or paying below market
      ___Employees not trusted to make their own judgments
      ___Information not share with employees
      ___Failure to ask employees for their ideas and opinions
      ___Unacceptable physical environment
      ___Missing tools, resources, or support

    Reason #6: Employee burn-out from stress and overwork.

    Obstacles: `

      ___Excessive/unreasonable work demands
      ___Chronic under-staffing
      ___Culture that views employees as expendable and non-renewable
      ___Uncertainty about future of the company
      ___Inadequate vacation or other work-life benefits
      ___Management resistance to flexible work arrangements
      ___Manager insensitivity to and disinterest in employees' personal lives and stresses
      ___Conflict with coworkers
      ___All work and no fun atmosphere

    Reason #7: Loss of employee trust and confidence in the company's leaders.


      ___Senior leaders seen as untrustworthy
      ___Greed and excessive self interest vs. concern for company welfare
      ___Isolated, out of touch, and unconcerned with employee's day-to-day reality
      ___Infrequent communication and hoarding of information
      ___Mismanagement of change
      ___Failure to inspire confidence in ability to steer the company to success
With all these potential obstacles, is it any wonder that there are relatively few great places to work? Great employers are committed enough to do the things other companies are not willing to do to confront these obstacles and overcome them.

The list above is long, but not exhaustive. If you decide to use it to take inventory of obstacles in your organization, you will undoubtedly come up with other obstacles you can add to the list.

If you have stories of how you have overcome, or are currently overcoming, some of these or similar obstacles, we would love to hear from you and share your stories with other readers. Please send your stories, questions, or comments to LB@keeping


If your organization is interested in diagnosing the true root causes of employee disengagement and turnover, contact Leigh Branham (LB@keeping to find out more about a Turnover Analysis, Employee Engagement Survey, or ongoing Third-Party Post-Exit Interviewing and Surveying.


"The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable."

-- James A. Garfield


For those of you who plan to attend the Society of Human Resource Management National Conference in Las Vegas in June, Leigh Branham will be speaking on "The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Disengage & Leave...Or Engage & Stay" on Wednesday, June 27, 11:30 to 12:45, with a book-signing immediately following the presentation.

To see a complete list of Leigh Branham's workshops and topics, visit

The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It's Too Late, by Leigh Branham (AMACOM Books, 2005).

Keeping the People Who Keep You in Business: 24 Ways to Hang On to Your Most Valuable Talent, by Leigh Branham
(AMACOM Books, 2000).

To order either of these books click here.


To send this newsletter to a friend, please click here.

Keeping the People, Inc. helps organizations link employer-of-choice strategies with business strategies, conduct third-party post-exit interviews and surveys, conduct engagement surveys with current employees, and provides the management coaching and training needed to implement those strategies.

For more information, contact Leigh Branham directly at (913) 620-4645, or by e-mail at Also visit the Web site:

Keeping the People Report
LB@keepingthepeople.combullet (913) 620-4645bullet
13488 West 126th Terrace, Overland Park, Kansas 66213

Copyright, Keeping the People, Inc. 2005. Keeping the People Report is written and edited by Leigh Branham.