Skeletons In The Closet: The Truth Behind Reasons-For-Leaving

(Getty Images by wwing)

Whether you are an HR Professional, Operations Leader or an employee who has resigned, I’m sure you will find this post relatable.

When an employee resigns, the first and most frequently asked question is, “why are you leaving?” What is the Reason-for-Leaving? While the employee might, at some point get irked by this question, this is actually a very important one. Not just out of curiosity but because this forms part of the analytical data.

Do you analyze your attrition (leavers) data? Do you spend time understanding why your employees leave? What confidence level do you have in terms of the accuracy of your raw data?

There could be several type of data, but for this article, let’s focus on the reasons-for-leaving. Is it accurate? Do employees say upfront exactly why they are leaving?

In our country (the Philippines), this isn’t always the case. We tend to give reasons that are popular and easier for our leaders to accept. For those who work or has experienced working in another country, is the tendency the same?

Of course, some reasons-for-leaving mirror reality and there are good bosses out there who are truly very painful to leave. I had occasions when I had to leave good leaders for one reason or another. But, there were also a few instances when what triggered my decision to resign was the behavior of a leader in the department.

The popular reasons for leaving are Total Rewards and Personal Reasons. When you see these two on top of your reasons-for-leaving list, it’s time to dig deeper. Is it true or are there skeletons in your attrition data closet?

Needless to say, reviewing an accurate set of data is crucial to effective action planning and execution.

Probe. Probe. Probe. You can ask questions like – What triggered your decision? What if this or that was the case, would you have decided to leave? How was your relationship with your supervisor?

I looked into a 5-year attrition data of one Company and they were not an exemption. Total Rewards and Personal Reasons top the reasons-for-leaving. However, looking deeper into other sources of data, I found that these leavers also did not receive valuable feedback, had very few 1-1 sessions and was not given clear direction by their immediate leads. Side stories (or comments on the forms) point to leadership behavior as a big chunk of the reason why they decided to leave. I had sharing sessions, too, with other HR professionals across several industries, from different countries and using many years of data and the same was observed.

In the article in Forbes written by Liz Ryan – Top 10 Reasons Great Employees Quit, you will see that more than half of the points raised are actually reasons a good boss can influence.

I am not saying all resignations are due to Managers, like I said, there are good (even great) ones.

Be that as it may, this continues to be a:

  • call to action for all leads to spend more time for their people, get to know them as individuals (see also What Your Employees Want To Tell You), develop them, engage them, keep them inspired.
  • Call to action for all of us in HR to clean our closet and present analytical findings that were derived from accurate raw data.
  • Call to action for employees to be more open with the leaders. Sometimes a good, open and transparent communication does a lot to help even the most difficult of your bosses. Often, they appreciate the conversation. Pls feel free to send me a note should you need help how to get your conversation started.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you found this helpful. Please feel free to share to others who might also benefit from this article.

Let’s talk again soon! 🙂

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A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime: Catching Up With Mitch Real and Why Connecting With A Coach is Important

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you will know what to do.

Our time working together was short yet meaningful. When we parted ways, the above, unattributed quote, was what we liked to say. Thinking that we met for a reason and the reason was served.

Little did we know that it was only the beginning and that workplace is not a necessary bound to our friendship.

Below is my picture with Mitch (R) in BGC. We were together for four hours but what seemed only a few minutes. I think, if my husband didn’t call, we wouldn’t realize that it was already past 10!

Mitch was my boss some 4 years ago and now my friend, coach and mentor.

After we both left the Company, we continued to stay in touch.


Because as a boss, she developed a relationship with us, her team that goes beyond the call of duty – of coaching and feedback and the numbers.

She saw me through my first (and only) relationship (she played an instrumental role here which we thought was ‘the reason’ we met) my developments and adventures in HR and now in my new role as a mommy.

We talked about anything and everything under the sun, from past struggles, to family life to love-life to leadership. All topics were close to our hearts but I would want to share more with you about the latter.

Mitch On Leadership

Why are we where we are at the moment? Why do God allow good things to happen to bad people? (and if you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to flip the question *smiles*) What’s the measure of goodness and badness when it comes to leadership?

Do you have answers to these?

Well, we don’t know the answers, but as Mitch shared her own story, it was clear that as God’s miracles unfold, that’s the only time you can better understand why things happen in the exact way that they do, but you can always trust that everything happens for a reason. Strangely enough, that was one of the topics Ms. Veron (watch out for this name, article unfolding soon!) and I had only hours before my catch-up with Mitch.

  • Inspite and despite it all, we agreed that
  • The following are leadership essentials, someone who –

    • trusts
      walked the path and built his/her own credibility through knowledge, skills and great attitude
      is a great people developer, and
      is authentic enough in the desire to help you develop as a professional and as a person

    You will not always be blessed with a leader who embodies all that, it’s fine, everyone is a beautiful work-in-progress, afterall, we are not perfect employees ourselves; or perhaps there will be times when your boss is none of it. Breathe in. Beathe out. Even that person is in your life for a reason. Who knows, perhaps you serve a purpose for his/her, too.

    This catch-up with Mitch was quenching to the soul. Sometimes, all you need is a good talk, someone you trust to listen and share valuable perspective that will remind you that everything happens for a reason, a season or a lifetime. And that if it ain’t good, it’s not in for a lifetime!

    Whatever state you are in right now, I highly encourage you find time to connect or reconnect with an ex-boss, a mentor, a coach, a friend. Why?

    • You trust this person (or group of people because you can have more than one, really).
    • You can be totally open to them, thus you can unburden (but be careful not to pass the burden).
    • They open you to nuggets of wisdom and perspectives that you haven’t considered before.

    No matter how old (or young) you are, how high up (or down low) you are in the Corporate ladder, it’s still worth the time and effort.

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