Top 8 Reasons a Veteran May Quit

Job interview in a white office.

The number of Americans quitting their jobs each month has risen from 1.7 million to 2.475 million according to Forbes. While this is still below pre-crisis numbers, it's exceptionally high considering the state of the economy. This may be a sign that employees are more confident in their abilities than they were in 2009, and they're becoming increasingly savvy about finding new jobs. Whatever the reason, these numbers show that managers can no longer assume that their team is lucky just to have a job – everyone has limits, and even in a tough economy a good employee who has hit theirs will likely leave.

If you're a manager and plan on hiring veterans or already have a few working for you, make sure you understand the following 8 reasons they may quit. Employees who are good at what they do usually understand that they are and can easily identify mistreatment, incompetence, and lack of attention. Veterans have spent years learning core skills in leadership, teamwork, and discipline are especially attuned to picking up these behaviors, so if you don't want to spend months finding a replacement for your in-house experts, take heed.

1. Your best people have too many responsibilities.

While companies hemorrhaged employees to stay afloat in a tough economy during the financial crisis, those who were kept onboard all asked the same question: how do you get the same amount of work done with fewer people? The most common answer was that each employee took on the responsibilities of two or three. While that might have helped initially, it can be a problem in the long run. Not only does it increase the likelihood of causing burnout, it impairs an employee's ability to grow by forcing them to spend inordinate amounts of time on tasks below their ability.

2. You're a micro-manager.

Providing direction and staying on top of your team's workflow are important tasks for any manager, but severely constricting an employee's creativity is not. Great employees thrive on strong direction and clear boundaries coupled with the freedom to pursue work goals in their own way. It may be tempting to oversee every aspect of their process, but it's important to know when to back off.

3. You're never around.

Giving employee's direction and feedback are fundamental to their success as well as your own. This means providing clear goals and boundaries and checking in on them at a reasonable pace. If you're never around the office, those tasks are a lot tougher. Even if you make it known that you have an open door policy, a visible presence is required to build enough solidarity for employees to feel comfortable approaching you.

4. You don't understand how new hires or promotions are driving everyone else crazy.

No matter how self-aware and savvy you think you are, few are absolutely immune to the effects of being sucked up to. It's hard to prevent the feelings that come with praise affecting your judgment, and if it's taken too far then you'll create a toxic environment for everyone else. Generally, suck-ups aren't great at their jobs: they're great at telling you what you want to hear. The harder you work to hire and promote based on merit, the stronger your team will be and the more confidence everyone will have in you as a leader.

5. You haven't given employees an idea of where they can go in their careers.

It's not a common practice, but letting employees know what they can do to progress in their careers can be highly motivating – it demonstrates that you care about them and what they do. Providing long-term goals, not just immediate instructions on current projects, gives employees a sense of where they fit and focuses them on what they need to do to succeed over time.

6. You run unproductive meetings.

Meetings are fundamentally necessary for communication and workflow within a company. However, they can be equally frustrating and wasteful if run poorly. No one wants their time wasted, especially during an hour when important decisions are supposed to be made. There's plenty of easily available information on running productive meetings, and any manager who doesn't learn will suffer in the long run.

7. You broadcast self-interest over interest in your team.

One of the worst missteps a boss can make is alienating their team. One method of avoiding this is to ensure that you never project that you care more about yourself than your employees. Don't openly disparage your group's efforts, don't talk about your promotion goals, and never let them believe that you don't respect them. Demonstrating that you have a vested interest in the team will help keep up morale.

8. You don't provide a big picture goal, or you're constantly changing it.

A long-term goal provides something tangible for your team to reach for. It will direct their efforts as they pursue it and help motivate them when the day-to-day becomes difficult. Without a clear goal to reach for, employees can easily get lost in the minutia of daily tasks. If you do have a goal, it's also important that you don't constantly change it. Employees will stop taking it seriously if it isn't consistent.

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