“If you had been my boss longer, I probably would not be leaving.” This was a parting statement made to a Vice President I was talking with recently. “We are losing a great talent,” the VP told me, “I spent time and resources developing her and making sure she got the opportunities that matched her ability, and then we promoted her. Now she’s leaving and I can’t believe it.”

When the VP asked the departing employee why she was unhappy enough to leave their organization for a job that paid less money she explained, “when I worked for you, you let me do my job, you did not confuse what you wanted me to do with telling me how to do it. I was learning and developing in my role when I reported to you. But when I received a promotion my new boss was a top-down, control freak. He would tell me how to do my work when I was already clear about the expected results. It was strange and uncomfortable to get a promotion and then be treated like I had to prove myself all over again. No way I’m doing that, I don’t need micromanaging.”


Stories like this serve to remind us that a high performer’s need to utilize their own work style always trumps higher pay.

Top performers will leave if their boss won’t focus on “results” and stay out of “how” an employee gets their work done. Top performers already understand that there have to be parameters and non negotiables, they simply need clarity about the expected results.

“It is important to consider that these individuals will take lower pay somewhere else in exchange for being fully utilized with meaningful, challenging work.”

As the economy improves the retention of great talent will become a serious issue. Employees won’t be afraid to move on to a better working environment, especially when they know they have already demonstrated their talent.


What Sort Of “Manager” Are You?

Are you a controlling, micro-manager or a “my way or the highway” boss at risk of losing great employees?

The only way to find out is to get feedback from your staff. Use the questions below and ask them to rate you on a scale from 1 = never controlling to 5 = always. If you fear you will not get truthful responses, then that is all the information you need! Use their feedback to set goals for your own performance evaluation.


1. When I delegate tasks or projects I provide clarity about who has the authority to make decisions or solve problems.

2. I consistently hold my direct reports accountable for achieving agreed-upon performance goals that are in writing.

3. I do not rescue, fix or save poor performance.

4. I focus on the result that I want and stay out of “how” allowing employees to utilize their work style.

5. I trust my direct reports to do their jobs and use problems or mistakes as opportunities to coach and mentor.


In Conclusion:

There is no question that it is important to grow and develop your best talent so that one day they will move on. However, be sure they are moving on for all the right reasons and not simply trying to get away from you and your micro-managing style.

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  1. Its called developing the weeds… don’t over water or over fertilize… Give them a clear expectation and a clear understanding of what you want done (fertile soil) and then let them grow. If they fail along the way occasionally, let them fail and learn – point them in the right direction again and let them grow… We as managers have a habit of plucking the weeds out of the soil on each failure… Stop it… We too learn by occasionally failing… Learn and move on. Let others do the same.

  2. If you would like to further your understanding of Corey’s perfectly put comment about “Weeds” my book “Way To Grow!, Cultivating the Weeds, Daisies and Orchids in Your Organization” is available on Amazon.
    Thanks Corey! Your summary is spot on!

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