Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – you hear via email or in an offhanded remark during a meeting that an awesome employee who you know (let’s call her Sophia), an intelligent, expressive, and creative individual, is no longer with the company.
Your first thought is – well – maybe she is probably better off somewhere else.
Ever wonder why that is the first thought you have? Doesn’t your company deserve to have these kinds of exceptional employees? Your second thought is “good for her” – maybe Sophia found a place that truly appreciates her skills, work ethic, creativity, and personality. A better fit.
But why was she a bad fit with your company – what was wrong with her? Nothing – it’s not her, it’s you (well, actually it’s your company.)
Once again, you might wonder why she didn’t flourish at your company – you know that despite the lip service paid by your senior executives to innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, the kind of thing that was every day for Sophia, the unhappy unspoken reality is that all your corporate culture truly focuses on is your bottom line – how best to drive profits and make things look great for your shareholders, not providing exceptional products and services to your customers, and improving their lives.
You know this – while feeling a pang of sadness that you won’t get to work with Sophia anymore, you understand that this was not the place for someone like her.
The question is – can you (and should you) do something about it? When did you decide to settle – to work for and support a company culture which did not allow for a terrific individual like Sophia to flourish? What did you do wrong, and what could you do better?
More than likely, your company is full of people just like Sophia – those free radicals who just seem to float above the fray of corporate politics and just consistently bring their best to work every day. Is there a way to stop the bleeding – to stop the flow of these exceptional people out of your organization? You need to notice the exodus, understand why these people are leaving, and figure out ways to keep them.
Because, guess what – everyone in your organization is just like Sophia – some more than others, but there is a little bit of Sophia in all of them – all looking to express their best selves on the job and for you.
The question is, will you let them?
What is the key to motivating and keeping your best people? Give them a solid and always-ready outlet for their ideas and innovation. Let them express themselves in an open forum of ideas. Nurture those ideas, nurture those with the ideas, and continuously innovate.
Keep those Sophias on your team (and off your competitors).