It's easy to get caught up in fundraising, scaling and sales that you forget to really care for the people who make your success possible. Too many times, strong leaders view a great employee as an asset that they don't appreciate until it's too late.
Don't lose your top talent on account of ignorance or naivety. Be aware of the top ten reasons your best employees might call it quits, and avoid them at all costs.
You don't give them enough freedom
No one wants to be micro-managed, especially highly-skilled talent. Show that you have confidence in your employees by giving them the freedom to perform in a manner or in a direction that suits them best.
You allow weak players to stay on the team
Talented people want to work with others who will challenge and inspire them, not drag them down. If you allow under-performers to stay even after they've proved themselves to be less than capable, either your star players will end up carrying the extra weight or they'll leave the team altogether.
You make too many rules
Innovative and productive people don't put up with bottlenecks, bureaucracy or arbitrary rules. While it is important to set clear expectations, it is also essential that you allow your talent some agency. Too many rules looks like too little trust.
You don't show your appreciation
Everyone wants to feel important, and recognition is a big part of that. Don't wait for annual awards or quarterly shout-outs to shine some light; recognize your employees on a daily basis. Even a quick expression of gratitude will uplift them.
You don't share your vision for the company
Great people want to know where they're going and why. If you don't share your vision, you're leaving them stranded without any direction or reason to stay.
You don't know them on a personal level
Your employees want to know that you see them as people, not just as cogs in a machine. If you are transactional and cold when dealing with your talent, you'll leave them feeling less than human, and chances are they won't stick around for long.
You don't respect their boundaries
Startup employees expect to work crazy hours in chaotic surroundings, but there is a limit to what you can ask of them. Don't violate it. If you work your people hard, be mindful of the push and pull. After the dust settles, give them time to recover. Otherwise, they might believe the sprints will never end.
They don't trust you
Great people want to work for a great person, and that means someone they can trust. Do you make overblown statements about your company, its progress or its potential? Ever find yourself being blindly optimistic? Saying one thing and then doing another? These are all signs of a lack of integrity and they're surefire reasons for your talent to turn tail and quit.
There isn't a clear culture
Teams that share and propagate a clear company culture tend to outperform and develop strong loyalties than companies without a strong culture. If your employees don't feel they really belong in your company, they might leave to find a place where where they do.
You're constantly changing your mind
If you're constantly waffling on a path or a direction, your indecision could come off as a lack of confidence. If you want your employees to follow your lead, you'd better be sure you know where you're going.
Take this to heart
Even the best of leaders can fall into bad habits without realizing it. Take some time to honestly evaluate your performance. If you think you may be doing one of the items above, ask a co-founder or team member for added perspective. Don't be afraid if they say yes. Being aware is the first step toward becoming the leader that will attract and retain top talent.