High Individual Performance Can Still Lead To A Resignation…And It’s Not What You Think.

2nd July - 2019

I recently saw a dear friend, Catherine, who has just left the corporate world to be a full time Mum to her two gorgeous girls to get balance back into her life.  For two years she was in a marketing executive role, performing very well. With high individual performance and as a top talent for the organisation, she was highly regarded.

So, what changed? Why did Catherine leave her job?

When High Individual Performance Is Not Enough

Catherine’s resignation was not because of finding another job, in fact to the contrary. We were talking about Yoomi as she was interested in my business, and we got into a discussion about the details of high performance, low engagement and not feeling good about anything. We then talked more specifically about the positive and negative correlation between engagement, wellbeing and performance. 

For context, Catherine’s husband travelled every week so they relied heavily on nannies and family to support them. With Catherine being based near home without much travel, she balanced the weekly schedule of family priorities and once home from work it was all about her girls. She’d start working again once they went to bed. During this highly demanding time she really didn’t have a work-life balance.  

Catherine was really passionate about the topic and we continued to have a very interesting conversation about her real life situation. Catherine said the following, “Well, I was a case in point. I was a star performer, always told how great I was doing and when I resigned, they told me the door was open anytime and that they really enjoyed working with me. They wanted me to stay. However, what I was not asked at any point whilst working there was “How am I feeling about work” or “Am I ok?”, or “Are you managing the work – life balance?”.  That whole piece around how I was personally doing or feeling about my job or the organisation was not asked once. So guess what happened? I resigned to take time out, be with my girls again and say goodbye to a one sided affair with the organisation.”

There’s More To High Individual Performance 

Think about what you can do to connect individual performance management with engagement and employee wellbeing in your organisation. For so long the performance management discussion has centered on one’s individual performance against performance objectives, KPIs or goals. 

It’s clear from Catherine’s experience, that her individual performance was always high, her engagement wavered at the best of times and her wellbeing suffered, which all resulted in her resignation. The connection between performance, engagement and wellbeing was not acknowledged by her employer. 

It’s clear that more attention needs to be paid to the correlation between performance, engagement and wellbeing. It’s time we measured all of these things together and really listened to the answers in order to transform the dialogue between your people and your business. We have to acknowledge this, and take a moment to ask some questions. Whether someone is a higher performer or not, we need to be more aware and responsible for managing the whole person.

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