Tales From the Leadership Front: “How Can I Get You to Stay?”

Tales From the Leadership Front: “How Can I Get You to Stay?”

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Category : Leadership


At some point in our careers, many of us have heard this question after we turned in a resignation letter. It’s happened to me a couple of times. One occasion that stood out was when I was assigned to manage the relationship of an unhappy insurance client. They had reason to be unhappy as their project was way behind schedule with no plan in place to finish it in a timely manner. Additionally, their 5-year, multi-million-dollar annual contract expired at the end of December. I was assigned the client in April and charged with getting them to renew before the cancellation notice deadline of September 30.

My first task was to meet the client, establish a relationship with them and hear directly from them the challenges they were facing with our company and how it was impacting their operations. This involved not only working with the client personnel who had daily interaction with the project, but with the C-level executives to make sure we were meeting their objectives.

I worked with my team to get the project on track. The client renewed their agreement with additional services by September 15th. This occurred in spite of the client losing the CEO, CTO and CFO as well as my team reporting to 6 different group leads in the 18 total months I worked there. I was literally on my own.

Unfortunately, when it came to end of year bonuses, I was shorted by 10s of thousands of dollars. Finance picked the renewal apart and since I had no one to advocate for me, I was shorted a lot of money. As fate would have, the day I received this awful news, I received a call from a recruiter asking me if I was in the market for a new position. My enthusiastic response was, “Now I am!” I interviewed and got the position at a competitor with a title and salary increase that made up for the bonus money I was shorted.

The evening after I turned in my resignation, I received a call on my mobile from the group president asking me, “How can I get you to stay?” By then, of course, I was moving on to better pastures.

The point is that people leave bosses, not jobs. I loved the prior job but didn’t like the instability of the organization structure or lack of reward for my hard work. When my bonus calculation came up, no one considered the client relationship I salvaged or the millions of dollars in revenues I saved the company. Organizations need to be proactive in managing their leadership resources to retain their most valuable people.

Have you ever had a “How Can I Get You to Stay?” moment. Please discuss in the comments, preferably without mentioning any company names.

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