Vande Mataram

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why people quit organizations?

The prime problem that creates a sub prime of talent in organizations is attrition. The common definition of attrition is a reduction in numbers usually as a result of resignation, retirement, or death. Refer to any dictionary, and you get the meaning that "the act of weakening or exhausting by constant harassment, abuse, or attack", "the act of wearing or grinding down by friction". I'm not here to think aloud about job hoppers. I'm here to speak about career minded people who find it difficult indeed to leave an organization and the relationships they have nurtured throughout their stay in an organization, yet part ways.

Why do they decide to move out? The frustration they have with their work, which makes them feel ostracized without reason. Most of such separations happen during change in the organization, with the immediate colleagues and boss or policies which make people feel that they have been lured into something worthless to work for. This could be either because the management had failed to convince the people about the change, or the good change promised, had been brought only in paper.

Brain drain is because most of the managers tend to manage people in an autocratic way. They do not explain why a decision is made and in which direction the organization would tread thereafter, and what are the contributions expected and gains to expect. Either the managers lack the capability to communicate, or they expect the people to follow orders without questions. Even in military establishments, do or die orders without explanations are given only after taking the people into confidence about the decisions made and the decision makers.

We lack true leaders and fill the leadership positions with managers, who remain glorified overseers, instead of being given the responsibility to lead a part of an organization. This could well be attributed to the organizational practice of appointing people without adherence to proper recruitment process, lack of plans to educate managers, failure to impart the organizational values to new recruits irrespective of the levels they've been hired for. This results in a know-it-all attitude of managers taking charge of a new environment, which demands ceaseless learning, instead.

If a good manager takes a bad decision that results in attrition of good talent, we can accept that as bad time and move ahead with a confident satisfaction that a lesson is learnt. But when an incapable fellow takes indiscreet decisions, to assert his control over the department he handles, with a gross indifference towards employees' concerns, that would put the organization's goals in jeopardy with freshmen all around looking forward to (of course, incapable) manager for every other step, resulting in pandemonium.

If managers tend to run their departments as their fiefdoms without adhering to industry standards or organizational principles nor an acceptable civil conduct, it is high time for people who run the business to raise their eyebrows toward this and their fists, if needed, to save their business. The widely talked about management adage "People don't leave organizations; They leave managers", is worth a bar of solid gold for every letter of it. Well, talked a lot about chaos and the root causes, now let us think about some ideas to arrest attrition.

Talent retention is not just about giving fat paychecks, bombarding the employees' wallet with other benefits, and fun activities at work. Talent acquisition and talent retention are the much discussed about topics in management circles. But most of us are not following them up with talent nurturing. If a person in promoted as manager he had to be trained with management basics, a brush up on organizational goals and principles, and a constant follow up on his activities by his boss unless he satisfies the purpose he had been recruited for. Just by promoting people based on the time spent with the organization and/or their proximity to "somebody" in the organization is nothing but forcing people to do the job they can't do best. This would result in organizational anarchy.

People have to be given hope that their contribution would be recognized and rewarded. They have to be allowed to voice their opinions that counts for the process of business they work for, as most of the top notch management advises and ideas have come from production/assembly line, than from board rooms and lecture halls. It is the responsibility of the organizational leaders to acquire, nurture and retain managerial talent and thus facilitate the organization in turn to acquire, nurture and retain other talents to stay firm and fly their flag high in the business environment.

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