Bringing the Curtain Down on Exiting Stage Right and the CEO’s Role Behind the Scenes

Exit Stage RightWEBThe number one concern for organiztions in the past two years has been the exit of employees according to SHRM . Of course, as with any problem, organiztions need to get to the root of the problem. According to several sources, stop me if you’ve heard this, the number one reason people leave their jobs is because of a bad boss. Is it always the manager’s fault or does the CEO also play a role? Or maybe, we’re in a mid-life crisis. In this article, we’ll look at three reasons people leave and ways to open the curtain on prevention.

1. The Manager

  • The Critical Boss: None of us like to be criticized and “constructive feedback” can still be painful. However, to dismiss remarks the boss offers would be a mistake. Rather, your opening act should be introspection. Be objective and look at ways you might improve performance, but also what traits may irk the boss or take stock of your clashing points.
  • Transference: Does your boss remind you of someone from your past who was critical, bullied you, or who used to know how to push your hot buttons? Work on separating these two figures.
  • Communication: There are people who, at least, initially do not communicate well. This is simply a matter of understanding each other’s behavior and communication styles and adapting.
  • Is It Just You? If there are others who do work well with your boss, observe their interactions and there may be things you are or are not doing that need to change.
  • Bosses: If good people are leaving your team, then you too should engage in each of the above steps.                    

    2. The Mid-Life Crisis

Another reason people exit stage right from a job, even after a long career run with an organization, is mid-life crisis. According to an article by journalist, Barbara Bradley Hagerty quoting Jim Harter, Ph.D., Chief Scientist for Gallup, this is a real phenomenon.

Dr. Harter suggests that well educated mid-lifers experience this more than those who aren’t well educated. The reason is that advanced educated performers have higher career expectations and therefore, life’s disappointments are a more bitter pill to swallow. Ms. Hagerty offers a quote from a Harvard Professor, Howard H. Stevenson, “There’s a difference between 20 years of experience and one year of experience 20 times.” This mind set is reminiscent of the song sung by Peggy Lee “Is That All There Is.” Ms. Hagerty goes on to explain through additional research, that it doesn’t have to be that way.

It seems that there is another phenomenon known as the “U-shaped curve.” After mid-life passes, we can bounce back to appreciate life as we then have under expectations about our futures and we are pleasantly surprised by reality. Well, for the impatient types, one only need to find a purpose and give back in some way. Easy peasy.

       3. The CEO

Not only is it lonely at the top, everything starts there too! What can a CEO do to help close the curtain on turnover? Can a CEO truly manage every manager’s management style and relationships? Can a CEO monitor the life changes of individual workers? Maybe not, but there are a few elements the CEO can contribute to prevent turnover from taking too many curtain calls say Jim Harter in an article entitled “Who Drives Employee Engagement – Manager or CEO?” The CEO can:

  • Enhance performance management by being clear in their expectations, conduct consistent progress reports, and imbuing a sense of purpose in the executive team. The assumption here is that this will then be driven through the rest of the organization.
  • Keep the executive team engaged by linking engagement to organizational strategies.

Obviously, the CEO nor the executive team can influence either directly or indirectly every single player on the organizational stage. However, together they can ensure that the organizational culture is one driven by a sense of mission and purpose. A sense of purpose can withstand many more curtain calls than any midlife crisis. Cultivate a sense of purpose throughout your organization and you will have a hit on your hands bigger than anything Broadway can produce.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you would like to discuss engagement strategies, call 404-320-7834 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

Graphic Credit Copyright: Inga Ivanova

CEO; Turnover,, Disengagment,, Team,