How to lose an employee in 10 days...

Take a step back, imagine your new employee is starting today and you’re excited someone can help relieve some of the work you’ve been shouldering for the last 3 months. Except you're stuck in traffic, your daughter forgot her homework and is freaking out because Mrs. Behe is going to scold her. Not to mention the conference call you have with Asia starts in 7 minutes. To you it’s a typical Wednesday but to your new hire this is a big day.

From the first day someone starts a job or when a new manager takes over a team...the clock to “keep” an employee starts ticking.

Losing an employee doesn’t exclusively mean they leave. You can also lose an employee when they check out and still show up everyday...because they are still getting paid…. When this happens they have moved from thinking outside the box to daily just checking the box.

I want to say that again. When we lose an employee they move from thinking outside the box to just checking the box. That is a lost employee.

I propose that the opportunity to lose an employee happens everyday. To lose a human being from living and working outside of the box to living inside of it and simply checking it.

Flipping it around, it also means there is opportunity to keep an employee everyday.

In most cases this opportunity - rests on the manager.

I can’t help myself when I’m checking out at a grocery store to almost passively ask the employee if they will work harder for one manager over another. Just as you would imagine my curiosity is met with looks of confirmation and certainty.

I want to tell you about Pete.

To me at the time Pete was a cool guy - a little wiry frame with a big ole full head of perfectly combed black hair. He seemed a little out of place but regardless of what I thought, I listened to Pete because he was my manager. You know why I listened to Pete? Because anytime things hit the fan, or you had a need as one of his people - he handled it.

Everyone knew Pete was there for them, that regardless of his stature as a manager at 7:45 on a Saturday night Pete would roll up his sleeves and start clearing tables faster than even the most motivated assistant would. I’m glad that at one of my first jobs while I was in college I got to meet Pete.

Pete cared about his family, cared about his people and cared about his job.

As a young adult who was forming a belief system on work, leadership and management - I had Pete provide a masterclass right in front of my eyes. Still today I can hear his voice beaming about his first taste of Jordan Cabernet from California. He said his palate felt as though “angels had ascended” on it.

He had passion, purpose and served his people.

Let’s take a look at the elements any manager or leader can do to lose an employee in ten days or less.

  • Not Engage them

  • Not Energize them

  • Not Enhance them

  • Not provide ExtraEffort for them

  • Not model Excellence for them

  • Not Empower them

  • Not provide an Equity stake in the work (ownership)

  • Not Exchange their weaknesses for strengths

  • Not Exercise their ability with stretch assignments

  • Treat Everyone the same (personality and goals)

  • Not show Empathy for what they are feeling

When employees are starved of these elements they go from thinking outside the box to simply just checking the box.

This transition happens because they are starved of work that matters. Just like when the brain is starved of oxygen - funny things begin to happen. Take a look here

Funny right. Well it’s kind of what happens to us when these elements are robbed of us as employees.

One of my uncles and I caught up this summer at a family gathering where we see each other every few years. He was talking about work and how he had started his own Amazon business buying and selling items - and honestly was killing it. I was a bit shocked because last I had connected with him he was doing social work for the county and it was fulfilling and engaging to him. His family had adjusted to the financial structure of this job but he was so engaged his health and soul were in peak condition.

Then, there were some direct changes in management and and in a matter of months he started to lose joy and passion for his work. The service being provided for the families, his health, his engagement and energy towards work started to shift downward. He ended up taking some time off - in this time he realized he had to put himself and his family as a priority and left the job.

All because of one manager.

Now in his Amazon business, which is less than 12 months old he’s making 6x what he was as a social worker. It wasn’t lack of drive, desire or the chutzpah to push through. It was a simple case of how to lose an employee in ten days.

I cannot help but think about the manager who drove a relationship to the brink of altered health and a career change that catapulted someone's potential forward.

I cannot help but desire to talk to him and understand his leadership philosophy.

As a leader or manager (yes there is a difference) we have the opportunity to win our people over or lose them.

So let’s flip the list and look at what you and I can do to keep and even develop our people.

  • Engage them

  • Energize them

  • Enhance them

  • Provide ExtraEffort for them

  • Model Excellence for them

  • Empower them

  • Provide an Equity stake in the work (ownership)

  • Exchange their weaknesses for strengths

  • Exercise their ability with stretch assignments

  • Not treat Everyone the same (personality and goals)

  • Show Empathy for what they are feeling

We are all human beings. We all have goals, dreams and an idea of what it would be like to do work that matters. According to the data 70% of the US workforce is checking the box instead of just thinking outside it...what is that costing you?

It’s totally possible we can move towards those things and create a better, more engaged future for entire organizations.

If you want some super practical ways to engage and develop your people check out my last post:

Talk soon.


BONUS: Go to and download the free ebook 5 Days: To Your Best Work Yet. This book isn’t magic but it’s pretty darn close. It'll come along side you and boost your performance to getting what you want. There is something very human about the way we work best - this book will quickly show you how to step into alignment with your best work yet.

Joshua Schneider