Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top ten reasons why large companies fail to keep their best talent

I have written earlier this year about the Plato vs. Aristotle conflict - in the organizational aspect, putting the organization in the middle, and the employee serves the organization goals vs. putting the employee in the middle, and having the organization as a platform to achieve the employee's goals.   When talking about top talents, they tend to be in the Aristotle side of the spectrum.  A recent article by Forbes discusses ten reasons why large companies are not good at retaining their top talents.  I still work at the big blue (IBM Haifa Research Lab), so I probably not qualified as top talent, but I heard all of these arguments before from people who left big companies.  The ten reasons relate to large companies' red tape; failing to find a project that matches the top talent's passion; annual reviews and career developments issues; lack of patience from the company's part to the top talents' initiative which can be longer term; lack of other top talents around, and mediocre management that don't know how to manage top talent -- very interesting! 


Anonymous said...

There are other reasons as well... one of which is a lack of long term vision for the top talent on the part of the company. The view has been changed from what it was to what have you done for me lately.. Long term views of the talents performance along with other factors cause talent to seek other opprotunities.

Thats just What I have found with my experience.

Rainer von Ammon said...

It seems you have this problem again and again within the last years, according to your blog postings.

Perhaps you remember our discussion about "Where are the Big Dogs in the Future and Emerging Technology scene?":

Just to make it clear: You were not the mentioned "anonymous" from a Big Dog in that referenced posting. What I've always valued, is that you would never say something as an anonymous.

In a first view, it might seem nice to work for a Big Dog as a homy guy. But normally a Big Dog is an abstraction of a swarm or crowd of employees with a more or less anyonymous C-level management which is changing every few years, sometimes after even only months. The new C-level manager then publishes a slogan as a new directive which must be something different from his/her predecessor. The actual and longer surviving sub-level workers are often not convinced and make themselves invisible or inconspicuous, and wait until the C-level manager has left the boat. The bigger the Dog, the clumsier. In the meantime some of them are so clumsy that they have problems to move and to adapt to the faster and faster changing universe of the event cloud quickly enough. The most of the employees are only still on board, because they must finance a family, and therefore they do the same in their hamster wheel everyday, without a perspective. It would make me ill.

If we have to work with a Big Dog in a project consortium, it/she would send a more or less unmotivated employee or a cheaper PhD student who will leave the enterprise after finishing the project respectively his/her thesis. Means, nothing is continued later. This is well known of course and we can read such discussion e.g. in the FP7 LinkedIn blogs since years, the last interesting one was from Campbell Stuart some days ago, NESSI board SME.

Forbes thesis 8. The Missing Vision Thing. "This might sound obvious, but is the future of your organization exciting? What strategy are you executing? What is the vision you want this talented person to fulfill? Did they have a say/input into this vision? If the answer is no, there’s work to do — and fast."

In some of my friends enterprises they are deciding the "innovation awards" in these days - as a motivating idea to bring in new ideas or concepts - the ideas were submitted two years ago....

Opher Etzion said...

Hi Rainer.

My interest in this issue is, of course, purely academic.
The Forbes articles are talking about top talents -- not about average persons like myself.

Happy new year.


Rainer von Ammon said...

I guess you just had:

Forbes 3. Poor Annual Performance Reviews.
as mentioned in the Forbes article

This kind of interview is an American invention, as far as I know, and Siebel was always proud to have invented the principle to dismiss automatically 5 % of the employees as non-performers every year on this basis. Before Siebel was acquired by Oracle.

The problem is that your evaluating manager is often fired by his management earlier than the evaluated employee or your manager left by his free will, but your evaluation sheets are still stored at HR and when HR resp. your new manager has to make the layoff lists according the new directives of the new C-level management (e.g. "dismiss 10% of your workforce in your country/department/... (routed top-down through the management levels) according to the following criteria ..."), your evaluation sheets are used again. And so on. An former IBM colleague told me that it was a kind of a cultural shock when IBM dismissed 150.000 people in the beginning of the nineties

This is an article about an enterprise which works differently:
unfortunately in German but there is also a book in English:
Ricardo Semmler “The Seven-Day Weekend: A Better Way to Work in the 21st Century