Linked – Resignations Can Become Contagious
Not only do I know this is true, I think there’s a simple explanation for it too.
Once a trusted and valued colleague departs for greener grass somewhere else, it encourages others to evaluate their own career trajectories. The logic is nearly flawless: If a person I respect thinks it is time to move on from our team, perhaps I should take a hard look at the same choice.
I think one of the things that keep people in their current jobs is inertia. Call it the “devil you know,” or comfort, whatever. It’s comparing the job you are certain about and the unknown of something new. The gap between those two things gets lesser and lesser the more uncertainty is introduced in the current position. Someone on your team leaving adds uncertainty. More so when it’s a manager. Add in a layoff or some other change in the organization, and suddenly it all starts to look a little uncertain.
The final thing that closes the gap? Lack of communication. If management isn’t communicating clearly about changes, and employees are unsure how those changes will start to impact their work, then it becomes an interesting choice. The new job you’re taking a chance on or the current one you’re taking a chance on. You might have a whole team of people looking at a 50-50 choice here. (Much lower if the new job involves a pay increase.)
Worse, in the absence of communication, your employees will fill in the gaps themselves. Many will imagine the worst-case scenario when they do that.
Your role, should you choose it, is to widen that gap as much as possible. You do this by clearly communicating and setting expectations that everyone understands and reducing the amount of uncertainty as much as possible at every turn.
When you don’t do that, that teammate leaving, that change that is hard to understand, the vague answers to questions all become something to feel uncertain about.
Humans don’t handle uncertainty well. They will seek out the path that has more certainty. You’re either providing that, or you’re not. If you’re not, you’re losing one of the important factors that impact retention. There’s a reason resignations are contagious. There’s a reason they go up right after layoffs or significant managerial change. We don’t like feeling uncertain.
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