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3 ways to tell if your star employee is about to quit

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They’re performing well. Their colleagues love them. They’re being paid well.

Yet, they leave their jobs.

Such a situation is bound to shock even the best of managers. This is not only because it’s a situation where business results will be damaged and costs will be incurred in replacing such an invaluable member of the team.

Instead, it is more shocking because it is highly unexpected from a star employee, and because thoroughly following the rules of employee engagement to the T fails.

Some managers have described it as the equivalent to a “kick in the gut”. As a result, they frequently wonder how they missed the signals that this person was going to leave.

So, how do you know if your best employee is thinking about moving on?

1. They’re constantly performing well

Sure, excellent results and a solid track record prove that the employee in question is doing well, is a good cultural fit and is highly engaged in his or her role.

But it is dangerous to assume that all these factors provide a guarantee that the star-performing employee will always stay in his or her current job.

Top performers and innovative employees are unique in that they will begin considering a new job simply if they feel “underused.”

Top performers and innovative employees are unique in that they will begin considering a new job simply if they feel “underused.”

Almost all top performers want to be continually challenged, as well as to make a major contribution. As a result, managers need to be aware that once a top employee feels that their skills are either eroding or that their talents are being underused, they will likely begin considering leaving.

2. Talk to their colleagues

And here’s how you can tell if they feel they aren’t being challenged enough – their colleagues.

Criminals frequently leave behind a string of hints—angry emails, threatening phone calls, etc.—before they commit their crime.

Similarly, dissatisfied employees sometimes drop hints that they’re looking to make a change – and the easiest ways to drop these hints is through the office grapevine.

Talk to other members of your star employees’ team to check how he or she feels about the current role, and what their future career plans are.

Chances are, you’re bound to pick up on subtle hints of their impending departure – or at least feedback on how their colleagues perceive them.

ALSO READ: 3 things to do when your top talent quits

3. Conduct “stay interviews”

Many firms use exit interviews to find out why an individual employee is leaving their job.

A superior approach is to be proactive and to use what is known as “a stay interview.” A stay interview helps you understand why an individual employee stays in their job by simply asking them in an informal one-on-one meeting to identify the principal reasons why they stay, so that these important factors can be reinforced.

Dissatisfied employees sometimes drop hints that they’re looking to make a change – and the easiest ways to drop these hints is through the office grapevine.

Such an interview doesn’t necessarily have to be as detailed as an appraisal. Rather, by just casually asking your employees why they love their job can allow you to judge their level of enthusiasm about the job and predict in advance whether he or she is happy in their role.

But be it having casual stay interviews with your employees, or asking other members of a team whether a top talent might be leaving, it is important to remember not to mistrust your staff.

Trust begets trust, and if you trust that your employees will always tell you the truth regarding how they’re feeling about their job, your employees will live up to that trust.

On the other hand, resorting frantically to constant scrutiny and paranoia that your top talent will leave will perhaps push them to hand in the pink slip.

Do you have any other ways of telling if a great employee is about to quit? Do write to me in the comments section below.

Image: Shutterstock



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