Top Talent Out The Door – The Real Reasons Why They Leave

Top Talent Out The Door – The Real Reasons Why They Leave

Most organizations have no idea why top talent leaves—at least not the real reasons.  Even if departing employees participate in an “exit interview”, most quickly determine it is best to keep the truth to themselves.  Consequently, organizations guess or make up reasons to explain why high potentials choose to take their talents elsewhere.   Typical organizational legends include: “He just wasn’t a team player.”  “She was too smart for her own good.”  “He was more trouble than he was worth.”  And, my all-time favorite—“It must have been something personal.”   Those responsible for retention and succession planning may feel better for it, but the long-term damage far outweighs any temporary comfort.  High-ability people are very perceptive and share their experiences with their peers.   In the current war for talent reputation is key, and the wrong one can take years to repair.

Talent psychology has the advantage here, because it allows access to insider information.  Over the past several years we have had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with high potential individuals and groups around the world.  In doing so, hundreds of highly talented people have confided their real reasons for leaving organizations, or avoiding some of them altogether.  Ten primary reasons stand out that provide a much-needed glimpse of the real reasons  why top talent leaves.

Why Top Talent Leaves

  • They feel misunderstood, intellectually insulted, and marginalized.
  • Their ideas and potential are squelched; they are under-challenged, bored, and disengaged.
  • The organization tries to pigeonhole them
  • They feel exploited
  • Their immediate superior feels threatened and gets in their way
  • Management assumes they are motivated by the same things as everyone else
  • They are expected to work well in standard “team effort” structures
  • Existing programs do not provide a differentiated approach that works for them
  • There is no buy-in for talent development at the highest levels
  • They know they have options, and don’t have to stay in a bad-fit job.

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