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What Great Managers Do Differently (to Keep Top Talent)

Maslow's Pyramid

This post lists the key insights from this article, from Santiago Jaramillo, former director of EA Sports


We have all seen these headlines before: People don’t quit companies, they quit organizational cultures, or People don’t quit jobs, they quit bad managers

But here is what the author contends:

“People quit because of lack of growth.”

It’s worth noting that growth in our professional lives can mean different things to different people. What is growth in that case? The growth that matters is that which allows us to use our skills effectively, creating maximum impact, while stretching us just enough so that there is always learning taking place. In other words, it’s the space where we feel appreciated and recognized for all that we can bring to the table.

Lessons from Psychology

When you look at Maslow’s pyramid, in the workplace, managers often stop at the pyschological needs. We need belongingness and love. We need intimate relationships. We need esteem and respect.

Great managers and leaders, however, know that this is not enough. They know that the last and most grand of Maslow’s needs, ‘self-fulfillment’, is perhaps the most critical and elusive, and it is in this part of the pyramid where we lose the best and brightest people.

You are able to entrust your team to do the work. On top of that, you are building trust with your team. And your team is also able to stretch themselves and grow.

For Maslow, self-fulfillment refers to the need we have to achieve our full potential as people. “It may be loosely described as the full use and exploitation of talents, capabilities, potentialities, etc. Such people seem to be fulfilling themselves and to be doing the best that they are capable of doing.”

When employees’ basic and psychological needs are met, but managers ignore their need for self-actualization, we are shortchanging their potential and will stifle their growth. And if your team stops growing, so are you as a leader.

How can you nurture ‘self-actualization’ in the workplace?

  1. Be honest about why top talent is leaving. Great leaders are the first to openly recognize that there is a problem, knowing that the true opportunity lies in being part of the solution.
  2. Get to know your team personally. Take time in one-on-ones to understand their interests beyond their responsibilities, their perspectives on different topics, and their own personal goals.
  3. Recognize and reward outsized impact. Do not take an individual’s contribution outside their responsibilities for granted.
  4. Constantly refresh the perception you have of your employees. They, like you, have learned new things, gained valuable experience, and evolved as a person and a professional.
2 min​ read

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