Human nature

Exit Interviews: 6 Questions to Gain the Utmost Value From Lost Talent

Peace-Out

I help talent leave. For many of them, change is hard. It inconveniences them, disrupts their rhythms, and makes them feel very uncomfortable and uncertain, even if it excites them at the same time. By the time people come to me to help them, they are usually in pain. Sometimes it’s even physical.

Most people will try everything else before they actually follow through with any plans to leave, unless they are getting tapped by recruiters who wave more money and better conditions and growth opportunities at them.

Resignation – a great word that describes both the state of mind of people who decide that there are few to no options left, and the act of leaving a job itself.

According to CultureAmp data, the top reasons talent leaves a company are lack of growth opportunities, poor leadership, and poor managers, in that order. Sometimes the managers or leaders get blamed for a poor or non-existent talent development system.

There is more loss to talent resignation than just losing a single person, their skill, their intelligence, and their experience. I speak about that here. The bleeding can be profuse.

The best way to control the bleeding, if you can’t stop it, is to conduct, or have a 3rd party conduct, exit interviews.

I asked the Quora community what they would tell their former boss if they could be sure there would be no negative consequences. One person answered and another upvoted that they wouldn’t burn a bridge by giving them negative feedback. Yes, the question was specific about their being no negative consequences, but it just goes to show that some people will still fear consequences, even if you tell them there are none. For this reason, you may want to engage a firm like Epic Careering to procure more truthful feedback.

If you want to keep the feedback coming and truly prevent future losses of talent, don’t punish employees and former employees with negative references or diminished separation packages. In fact, go the other direction.

Offer any separated talent an incentive to provide comprehensive feedback via an exit interview. A moral incentive is that their leaving is not in vein and it will serve the people they have to leave behind. Many of my clients’ driving reason for staying in a job so long is because of the people they feel they may now screw over by leaving.

A monetary incentive may be more effective, but you have to make sure people don’t feel paid off for a positive review. It may even be better for the monetary incentive to come from the 3rd party in the way of a $100 gift card, much the way surveys and studies do it.

If you decide to conduct your own, even if through your company’s human resources department, here are primary questions to ask:

  1. What could the company or your manager have done differently to prevent you from wanting to leave?
  2. Did you confront your manager about your reasons for wanting to leave prior to making the decision, and, if not, why not?
  3. What do you think the company and its leaders can do to make X a better company to work for?
  4. Would you refer a friend or family member to this company as either a customer or employee? If so, why, and if not, why not?
  5. Is there anyone you would like to recommend to fill your position? Please provide their name, contact information and why you feel they would be a good fit.
  6. What was the best part of working for this company?

Exit interviews aren’t the only way to uncover why the company is losing talent so that an effective solution can be identified. Glassdoor is another way, but by the time the information is out there, it’s for the whole world to see.

If someone really feels strongly about their experience, good or bad this may or may not prevent them from going straight to Glassdoor with their rating. However, giving them this outlet may prevent those who would use Glassdoor simply to help leaders learn a lesson for the sake of all who remain and all who may consider employment.

If you don’t currently have a way for employees to share their feedback while still on the job, you are probably guessing how to keep your employees. Some companies guess wrong and think that benefits are going to keep employees around.

This is what we refer to as “golden handcuffs.” They may keep employees around longer than they would, but they don’t keep employees engaged. Engagement surveys can help you assess this, but not all are created equally, and still, if they are conducted internally, as I share in the video I mentioned above, the honesty a company needs to prevent future losses of talent can be muted. Delegate to a 3rd party firm like Epic Careering.

Pet Shop Boys – What have I done to deserve this?

Lyrics You always wanted a lover I only wanted a job I’ve always worked for my living How’m I gonna get through? How’m I gonna get through? I come here looking for money (Got to have it) and end up leaving with love Now you’ve left me with nothing (Can’t take it) How’m I gonna get through?

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019,  and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Debunking Networking Myths That Keep People From Optimal Careers

When I speak about job search, I ask people, “Who has heard before that networking is the #1 way to find a job,” or I’ll ask people to “Fill in the blank… what is the #1 way to find a job?” Without fail most, if not all, of the attendees will correctly state the answer. (Networking is the #1 way to find a job.)

Then I ask them to tell me what they spend most of their time doing, and the answers don’t match up. So, do I just shake my finger at them? That’s not my style. I know that the solutions only reveal themselves when we really know the root cause. I seek to understand and empathize.

So, when I ask job seekers why they spend most of their transition time scouring job boards and filling out online applications when they know logically that the chances of getting a job that way are ~7%, I hear one of the following:

  1. Networking isn’t my thing
  2. I don’t have a network
  3. I’ve exhausted my network

#1 is not a truth; it’s a limiting belief either about yourself, about the expectation of receiving help, or about networking.

If someone sold you the idea that there is something dirty, immoral, inauthentic, or selfish about promoting yourself, networking will make you feel icky. You might have been taught from a young age to be seen and not heard, or that you need to yield to someone else’s needs or agenda. For that reason, you might prefer to let others get the glory while you stay meek and humble in the background.

Here’s the truth about #2, too – if you are on a first name basis with people outside your family, networking is your thing. It doesn’t have to look like making superficial connections with people you wouldn’t otherwise want to associate and using people. Even if you are an introvert, even if your network is small comparatively to other people, there is still a way to engage in meaningful connection with others and produce employment leads as a byproduct.

Here’s an opinion, albeit a much more empowering and relevant opinion – You were born with unique gifts and values, and you were gifted unique experiences and influences. Not only do you owe it to yourself to take every opportunity to expand your ability to use those gifts, but other people depend on this as well.

Whatever rules you were given that restricted your permission to own your own light and brilliance, I release you from those rules and give you full permission to love yourself unabashedly. We can only love others to the capacity we love ourselves.

The internet attributes this idea to Bréne Brown, but Matthew 22:39 states, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So many focus on the neighbor part, but if you read this a bit deeper, you’ll notice that you are supposed to love yourself, and love your neighbor as much.

Take it from someone who believed that I had to be meek and humble, but found myself being victimized by people who sought to abuse me to gain artificial power, even though they were supposed to be aligned to the same principals as me. I found that I don’t need to steal other people’s light, and in fact doing so dulls mine. But I must not let others steal my light, or there will be others living in darkness.

First, you have to learn to love and appreciate your own light, and then you have to let it shine. That’s a high-level look at networking at its finest. Consider it to be an activity that enables you to find those who can show you where your light is needed most.

Beyond your immediate circle of influence are many people who will “get” you, who will like you exactly the way you are, and who want to help you, because it makes them feel valuable.

#3 comes from people who are from one of two categories:

  1. You are a people pleaser, and you can’t stand the thought of someone not liking you or feeling annoyed by you. You, therefore, will only seek to be helpful and not a burden. You figure people will help if they want to and like you, so you’ll ask, but you’ll make it seem nonchalant. You’ll tell people, when they have time, if it’s not too much trouble, they can help you by letting you know about jobs open or by introducing you to people. Then, people do little to help you and you worry that you’ve been too forward, too demanding, or too annoying. You wonder if these people even really like you. The lack of action or response is painful and re-opens old wounds from when you wanted desperately to be accepted, maybe even popular. You are immediately discouraged and you give up, figuring that people don’t want to help and they don’t like you. You’ll assume you have better chances applying online cold to new people who are more likely to give you a chance.
  2. You literally spoke with anyone and everyone was willing to listen. You asked humbly for help. However, if you didn’t generate momentum by doing so, you most likely didn’t apply the best practices or properly train your network how to identify a good lead for you. You may have presented it too much as a favor to you, and didn’t get across exactly what value you have to offer. You may have only asked them to let you know if they hear about and opening for your title. You also may have thought that by being very general and broad about what you want, that your network would produce more leads.

It seems counter-intuitive, but you will produce more high-quality leads by being specific about the kinds of problems you solve, the kinds of initiatives that you make successful and the kinds of challenges you know well how to overcome, and then being clear about who would be experiencing these problems, challenges and initiatives and asking for introductions to these people.

Even beyond not adequately inspiring or educating your network, there are still other reasons why you might find efforts to network in order to land a new job fail, and I’ll cover more of them next week: Real Reasons Your Network Hasn’t Stepped Up To Help You

So Lonely – The Police w/ Lyrics

Single from the Album: Outlandos d’Amour Writer: Sting Released: November 1978 Re-released: February 1980 Length: 3:10 (7″ single edit), 4:52 (Full-length album version) Label: A&M Records Producer(s): Stewart Copeland, Sting, Andy Summers Personnel: Sting (Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner CBE) born: October 2, 1951 Bass guitar, lead and backing vocals, harmonica Andy Summers (Andrew James “Andy” Summers) born: December 31, 1942 Guitar, spoken word and piano Stewart Copeland (Stewart Armstrong Copeland) born: July 16, 1952 Drums, percussion, backing vocals

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Think What Happened To Elon Musk Won’t Happen to You? Think Again!

Reverse Engineering Internal Sabotage for Prevention [Part 1 of 3]

SpaceX Discovery Fire

Discovery Fire Galaxy 2016

The Tesla sabotage incident Elon Musk made the world aware of last week raises a few great questions.

  1. How does somebody who would be inclined and capable of sabotaging your company get into your company, and how can you prevent that?
  2. How can you choose the right person for promotion, but still make sure that those who didn’t receive a promotion stay engaged and working in the company‘s best interests?
  3. Once you know that your hiring process allowed a saboteur to get through the screening process, how do you make sure that the rest of your workforce is on the up and up without insulting knows of higher values and morals?

All great questions, but we’re going to focus on #1 today and tackle the other two in subsequent posts.

If you took a look at Tesla’s Glassdoor profile, you’d see that they rate highly, at 3.4 out of 5 stars, but only 57% would recommend Tesla as an employer to a friend.

Overall, people are in it for the mission of disrupting the energy and transportation industries, and 85% approve of the job Elon Musk is doing. The common complaints, however, are lack of work/life balance – long hours with minimal pay and inflexible attendance policies. The benefits are not quite making up for the lack in fair pay, either. Plus, lack of procedures are making employees feel like they can’t even be efficient in the time they spend there.

Apparently, people get fired unexpectedly and are given little to no feedback on their performance. Also, one employee reports that it’s rare to be recognized, even if you’ve achieved the “impossible;” it just becomes the standard expectation from that point forward. They are letting go 9% of their salaried workforce (outside of production) to cut costs. They also are churning through people who find it hard to stay more than a couple years.

Musk knew when he decided to step up and disrupt very wealthy and powerful industries that he would become a target. However, with the workforce complaints piling up, I wonder why he didn’t see an internal attack coming.

Perhaps he isn’t familiar with altruistic punishment – a reaction embedded in our brain that gets triggered when a person believes he/she or someone else is being treated unfairly. Why did nature install this type of reaction in our brain? To promote cooperation that supports the evolution of our species.

In answer to #1, biologically, science has proven all human beings are capable of inflicting harm on someone who has treated others unfairly. It stands to reason that people have varying thresholds.

I think of Clark Griswold when I think of altruistic punishment. It hardly matters what National Lampoons movie you choose. He always had the best of intentions to show his family a great time and make meaningful memories. When other people’s shenanigans and acts of God threatened to sabotage his plans, he felt fully justified in breaking laws and violating other people’s safety and/or property to achieve his well-intentioned mission. In the end, people admitted that they were being unfair and Clark and his family got away without punishment and with amazing memories that brought them closer together as a family. Good times. I don’t see the Tesla employee enjoying such a happy ending, but maybe.

I’m sure Musk has his own justifications for keeping things the way they are – in order to be profitable, the company has to produce 5,000 Model 3s each week. People have proposed that he be stripped of his Board Chairman position. The company’s shares are worth 16% now than they were last year at this time. No doubt, Musk is under a lot of pressure to control costs and boost production to survive as a company and achieve his mission. I’m sure employee belief in the mission is the thing that Musk was depending on to get him and his over-stretched workforce through these challenges. Unfortunately for Musk and his mission, it wasn’t enough, and the costs have been extremely prohibitive, though he still remains certain that he will achieve his production goals.

Yes, Musk confessed to sleeping at the factory. I’m sure he wants his workforce to see him as a model employee, to see that he’s willing to put in every drop of his effort and time for the sake of his mission. Can he really expect them to show the same level of commitment AND perform, stay, endure with few perks to their lifestyle? Once they have been hired by any of his companies, they become premier talent for the taking.

He suspects the jilted employee was collaborating with someone associated with Wall Street or the industries he’s disrupting.

Here’s the thing: if you were losing or stood to lose millions of dollars with the widespread production and purchase of solar/electric vehicles, and you knew that many employees were unhappy with the conditions under which they work, might it occur to you to convert an employee into an accomplice?

Not all companies have such enemies, but they do (or will) have competition.

Out of curiosity, I scooted over to Elon Musk’s other companies’ Glassdoor profiles to see what was said about them. I had heard that a recent graduate I know received an offer to work for SpaceX, but turned it down because it required 70 hours per week. SpaceX is very highly rated at 4.4 out of 5 stars, and Musk’s approval rating is even higher at 97%! It seems that even though lack of work/life balance is still a very common complaint, improvements have been made since 2015. So far, though, it looks like the mission and the high caliber of talent is keeping the workforce going. It’s been rated a top place to work for 2018.

I headed over to SolarCity, which has been part of Tesla since 2016 and is being led by Lyndon Rive. As you might expect, lack of work/life balance is the #1 complaint, but other common complaints are also poor training and lack of communication from executives. It also seems that background checks are quite extensive. One employee waited 12 weeks for verification. This was while the company was part of Tesla, and before the saboteur came out with his confession. I wonder if the saboteur made it through the same comprehensive and stringent background checking, yet still wound up wanting retribution.

So, should you tweak your hiring practices to include measuring the altruistic punishment threshold of potential employees, or should you address workforce complaints to the best of your ability?

It seems to me that sound, fair workforce cultures and policies are the best way to prevent internal sabotage. These are fixable problems!

If I were a shareholder, I’d be highly skeptical that the company could become profitable by cutting the workforce outside of production while doubling production.

I wonder how the costs of attrition, lack of efficiency, quality issues, and extensive internal sabotage rack up against the costs of more flexible work days, increased monetary incentives, improved feedback and communication, and career planning. Could Musk have avoided quality issues, delayed launches, sabotage and having to do a workforce reduction if he invested in solving the issues affecting his people?

As much of a visionary as I can agree Elon Musk is, it seems his eyes are on the prize and not his people. This is a strategic failure I hope doesn’t result in the combustion of his company, especially as new competitors emerge regularly.

One employee already stated that he feels everyone fears that the company is one disaster away from imploding. Could it be?

Is your company at risk of a similar fate?

If you answer yes to any of the questions below, then your company is at risk.

Please nominate your company for a workforce audit (all submissions are confidential!) by e-mailing us with your company’s name and the name(s), direct e-mail address(es) and direct phone number(s) to any and all contacts who would be the most logical point(s) of contact. C-level executives are logical points of contact, but so are majority shareholders and Vice Presidents empowered to make workforce investments.

  • Does your company put profit above people?
  • Do your executive leaders seem inaccessible and lack transparency?
  • Would you consider the working conditions to be inhumane and/or counter-productive?
  • Do they fail to acknowledge achievements?
  • Are your performance evaluations lacking in clarity on what you can improve or how you can grow?
  • Do they fail to give you feedback or deliver it harshly?
  • Is unprofessional behavior tolerated?
  • Does it seem certain kinds of people always get the promotions?
  • Are initiatives lacking in funding while executives take home healthy salaries and bonuses?
  • Does your boss play favorites?
  • Is communication one-way or non-existent
  • Are you fearful of what will happen if you make a mistake based on a history of punishment vs. development?

Beastie Boys – Sabotage

Music video by The Beastie Boys performing Sabotage. (C) 2009 Capitol Records, LLC

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.