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  • Writer's pictureTarun Kumar

Why people quit Jobs?

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

“Great things in business are never done by one person.

They're done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs

Recently I received a call from Rose during the middle of pandemic, she was one of my favourite coachee at an organization where I was doing Leadership session. Rose was a go getter, I always admired her work. She was full of infectious energy and I saw the potential of a leader in her, yearning to unleash herself.

She had all the ingredients to be on the top of the ladder and most importantly Rose’s colleagues would heap praises about her work and helping nature to no end. In nutshell Rose was smart, hardworking, socially savvy and a very likable human being. She was one stop shop for clients, co-workers and the senior executives, you name it - she has it kind of person. She was in the CRM and was privy to her rising up the ladder over a short span of time purely on merit.

We spoke over the phone and I could sense discomfort, although she was finding it difficult to express I was certain something was bugging her and she needed release of those pent up emotions. As a long standing high performance employee it was being joked about that World was in her pocket as she has mastered the World domination strategy through sheer grit, determination & steely resolve.

Couple of calls but ice breaking was taking time, pandemic was restricting physical meeting and the clock was ticking. Until one day I came to know she has handed her resignation. The news came as a bolt from blue to her firm and senior executives and I was asked to assist in ascertaining the root cause, if possible get her back.

Finally one day Rose called and opened up when I asked during the conversation, what made her decide to leave?

She said, “When I joined the organization the leadership created an amazing culture of growth, development and community. Over the years there has been changes in top echelons where new leaders with different values were inducted. Over a period of time this changed the culture of the organization. I was finding it difficult to identify with the same organization anymore.”

“Train people well enough so they can leave,

treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”- Richard Branson

I was amazed at the clarity of thoughts and the reason she was mentioning. Infact, till then I believed that employees quit because of bad bosses and not organisations, unable to manage their cultures. This was an eye opener and brought to fore another dimension which went beyond Leaders. Employees do not quit Bad Bosses but unacceptable organizational cultures.

Organisational culture, simply put is an eco-system of underlying beliefs, assumptions, values, attitudes, behaviours and ways of interacting amongst the group of employees driven by Leadership that contributes to the creation of a unique social and psychological environment.

The reasons for poor organizational culture could be many but some random thoughts encapsulated to have a better understanding of the concept:-

1. What is the Vision of the company?

So often we come across limited company vision, employees not knowing where the organization is going or what is the ultimate goal? I have left assignment and sessions primarily because I don’t see where I fit in. Remember, if Leadership doesn’t have a big enough vision for the growth of employees (dreams & aspirations) they’ll be looking for alternatives.

2. Misaligned Leadership

When leadership doesn’t know the difference between selling and growing, doubt occurs. It happens when the organisation’s values contradict their business decisions and the rot starts to set in. Leadership must answer why we’re investing time, effort, funds and resources if there’s no mention of goals and are they realistic?

3. Coerced Working Environment

Employees are asked to do things which don’t align with their values. There are groups within groups having favouritism or parochialism as the flavor of the day. If you are having right connections even mediocrity is a merit. No scope for creativity or new age concepts to be tried acts as a last nail in the coffin.

4. Increased Toxicity

Abuse in workplace is on the increase with unrealistic expectations. Surrounded with disrespectful people who only know how to gossip and banter with condescending attitudes makes daily survival a challenge.

5. Lack of Affinity

When there is no appreciation, connectivity with the team or organization as a whole suffers. Disengagement due to gender bias, ethnicity, inability to manage introverts further aggravates the situation.

6. Uncertainty During Difficult Times

During pandemic when the pruning of staff was underway I could see lack of faith in certain organisations’ with poor culture. The fear of unknown tore the team apart as fear took the flagship position.

7. Zero Error Syndrome

The environment where you can’t grow, be heard or make mistakes is like a prison.

Lack of feedback mechanism makes the decision making laborious. Unstructured processes lead to inequity and lack of flexibility in implementation takes away the initiative from employees.

I don’t know about you but the day I feel I’m not growing, learning new things or was able to leverage my experience is the day to say quits – coz it reduces my motivation and output. Every employee wants to learn, grow and have a future in the organizational scheme of things. How about you?

“As soon as something stops being fun, I think it’s time to move on. Life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live.”

What could be the steps undertaken to help maintain the course of organizational culture?

Col Tarun Kumar (Retd) is an author, influencer, speaker, certified coach and business story teller who is popularly known as ‘The Force Multipliers’ for his thoughts on how to have the mentality of leadership. He served as a special operations observation post officer at the highest battlefield in the world – The Siachen Glacier, where he survived multiple splinter injuries during active operations. He was an instructor at prestigious National Defence Academy – The cradle of Military Leadership where he taught Leadership and survival skills to cadets. A proponent of strategic negotiations and critical decision making, Tarun served as a staff officer at UN mission in Sierra Leone and was instrumental in strategic intelligence gathering on Counter terrorism in Northern part of Border areas as part of Integrated Defence Staff. His book “The Winning Edge – Unleash the Leader Within” has been endorsed by great thought leaders on Leadership Marshall Goldsmith.

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