As a manager you invest significant time and energy hiring, training and developing your team. Retention of talented staff can be a significant competitive advantage. I was asked recently if there were clues that an employee was planning to leave or at least seriously considering making a change. Often the manager will see clues that an employee is getting ready to leave based on their behavior.
Hard to believe in this day and age but often employees send very obvious clues to their managers and others including:
- Sudden increase in last minute requests for vacation days or personal days – sure looks like they are interviewing
- Sudden increase in calling in sick – maybe they don’t want to use up vacation or personal days for those interviews, if they were full of vim and vigor the day before and the day after, you can’t help but wonder if they were interviewing
- Employees who never wear a suit or tie come to work dressed up and then have to leave early – they must really want you to know because that is so obvious
Other clues can be more subtle but if you know your employees well you are likely to pick up on these and other indications:
- Is the employee no longer coming in early or staying late as had been their habit?
- Is the employee suddenly resisting taking on new projects?
- Does the employee seem less interested or motivated in the work?
- Has the employee started complaining more about the company, the department, the colleagues or the work?
- Is the employee suddenly taking longer breaks or more frequent breaks? It the employee away longer at lunch than previously?
- Are there a lot of hushed conversations taking place that stop as soon as you are nearby?
While not a guarantee that someone is already actively looking, these types of behavior changes could at least be the start of growing frustration which could lead to making a change. If you observe these types of changes in an employee, engage them in a conversation. Ask if everything is ok. Share what you have observed and why you are concerned. It could lead to a valuable conversation and could “save” an employee. While the employee is not obligated to stay with the company, if they have been successful up to this point, it is likely worth the time to attempt to retain them and all the knowledge they have of your organization.