When an employee quits, it's very rare that he or she did not show some signals prior to leaving the company. Still, many leaders are shocked when certain members of their team present their two week's notice, even though there were most likely very clear indicators -- if only they were connecting and paying attention.
Leaders who work closely with their teams should be really engaged and able to see these red flags right away, but may be so focused on their own responsibilities that they fail to notice an employee becoming disengaged.
You should be on the lookout and fully aware of these signs so you can proactively approach these situations and solve problems within your organization that may be pushing employees away:
1. Only doing the bare minimum.
It's really important for every member of the team to focus on their own work as well as the overall company's success. When an employee of your company starts to only put in the bare minimum and does what is absolutely necessary and no longer is a team player, they are most likely dissatisfied with their role. Of course, this attitude and behavior affects everyone who interacts with this person.
Rather than wait for the situation to negatively impact other members of your team -- meet with this person and try to understand what issues, concerns and other problems they may have that are causing this behavior. You want to make sure you are addressing the problem, and not simply the symptom that they appear to have checked-out. This is what I call asking the "why" question. You may be surprised with some eye-opening answers that not only may save this employee, but address a bigger issue within the company.
2. They no longer focus on long-term goals.
Many leaders assume that members of their teams see themselves staying at the company an indefinite amount of time-- when in reality they do not anticipate staying longer than a few more months at most. If an employee always shies away from talking about long-term goals, they most likely have a different idea of the future than you do. This will likely affect their performance because they see their present role as temporary.
Open up the lines of communication and establish a fully transparent culture. Speak with your employees individually and explain where you foresee them going within the company and how they need to improve to get there. This positive approach will help them understand you care about their wellbeing and future growth opportunities.
3. Conversing with coworkers has stopped.
I've seen it time and time again-- an employee leaves and their coworkers show no surprise at all. Everyone saw it coming except management. Those who determined they are leaving tend to remove themselves from the office culture --they also rarely make an effort to get to know new members of the team.
Host a team building exercise or company lunch and observe your employees' interactions. Assess who actively speaks with others and who seems removed from the group. Then you can speak privately with those who are detached and determine what might make it easier for them to engage and improve their time at the office.
4. A lack of drive to improve.
Successful leaders empower their employees to further develop skills and utilize advancement opportunities. Those who plan to quit rarely bother bettering themselves at their current position and fail to accept and apply constructive criticism given by superiors.
Study which employees take initiative and demonstrates a desire to grow, and who decides to coast. This will also help you identify the employees with the most potential and when a new position opens up, keep these people in mind.
5. Unexpected requests for time off.
As most people are aware, constantly asking to leave early or come in late on short notice is a common red flag. If an employee does this, they may have already determined that they want to leave, but you can still sit down with them and understand what grievances they have and what could be done to make them more satisfied as a member of your team.
Think of your employees as assets, not costs. You or one of your leaders hired every one of them, spent time and money trained them and have been leading them for however long each person has been with the company. Take the offense -- rather than becoming angry when someone quits, stay engaged and look for these five signs that something may be wrong -- and fix it. That is how you maximize your return on your investment.