Miss These Three Things And Your Employees Will Abandon Ship

Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
Monday, August 16, 2021
Miss These Three Things And Your Employees Will Abandon Ship

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There are three things that must exist for your employees to be productive and engaged. If these are lacking or missing, they will abandon ship faster than a rat on the Titanic.

This article describes the three things you need to provide your team to keep them not only on board your ship, but engaged and rowing hard toward the intended destination.

Read on to get answers to the three questions: Why? Where? and How?


Although people will work in order to pay the rent or mortgage, they will work well if they have a reason why that's a bit higher on Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs than mere shelter.

Each person on the team needs to feel connected to the mission. They need to not only understand the reason why, but they need to believe that it is worthy and deserving of their time and toil.

If the only reason the company exists is to put another Lamborghini in the president's garage, forget it. All you'll get are warm bodies doing just enough to keep from getting fired while they look for any excuse to leave and work for the competition.

What everyone needs beyond food and shelter is a sense of purpose. They need work that makes them feel fulfilled.

The first thing you need to provide to keep your employees from abandoning ship is a sense of purpose. They need to know that what they do matters and will be appreciated.


Have you ever tried to get somewhere without knowing where you're trying to go?

Have you ever tried to find the answer to a question that hasn't been asked?

To put it more simply, can you achieve success if you don't know what success looks like?

This common mistake by leaders all the way from the shop floor to the corner office of the executive suite prevents people from reaching their operational and functional peak more than any other.

We've written before about failing to meet expectations1. That article describes a real-world example of someone who was considered a failure by their supervisor because they were unable to meet expectations that were never expressed.

To solve this problem, each employee needs clarity of purpose and method. They need to know what they are to accomplish without ambiguity.

Provide your team with the clarity of a fixed destination and they'll wow you with how efficiently and effectively they can get you there.


Imagine this scenario:

You are the captain of a large cargo ship and you must navigate it through the Suez canal. You look out over the bow, make a correction on the tiller, and then retreat to your cabin. 24 hours later you return to the bridge, look out over the bow, make another correction on the tiller, then go away for another day.

What would happen to the ship if you piloted it in this manner? It would run aground, blocking trade that impacts the entire world's economy.

This is analogous to the common practice of annual performance evaluations2.

It is not realistic to expect someone to excel in their position if they have infrequent information about their performance. People do not operate in a vacuum — not even astronauts — without adequate data and information.

Even if someone is given the clarity they need to understand what they are to accomplish, and have a strong sense of purpose making them feel valued and appreciated, they will still fail without the final ingredient for operational success: feedback.

Each of us needs the right feedback at the right time to do our job, no matter what our job may be. This feedback must occur as needed based on the role, some more frequently than others. The role and its requirements determine the pace and content of feedback that is necessary to do it well.

There's not a job on the planet that can be completed to its peak potential with only once-a-year feedback.

Tie it all together

If you answer the three questions of Why? Where? and How? by providing your team with purpose, clarity and feedback, respectively, you will have taken a massive step to not only prevent employees from abandoning ship, but you've given them the performance fuel they need to truly shine.


1 What Every Employee Fears: Failure to Meet Expectations

2 Performance Reviews Must Die

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Steve Williamson

Steve Williamson

Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.

Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (ruckerworks.com), and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.

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