When a key manager moves on to a new job usually on a higher salary, it is automatically assumed that money alone was the incentive.

This is because a salary-figure represents one of those 'fixed points' that psychologists always talk about - the simple black-and-white explanation we want to believe in, rather than having to search around in the depths of motivational theory.

But you don’t have to look far into the subject before you appreciate that there are two elements to remuneration  -  reward and compensation. The first might be to celebrate a string of successful sales, whilst the second might be an incentive for people having to work in difficult conditions. In the UK, we can recall a period when half the country seemed to be on strike. Looking back at those disputes, we notice that some of the bitterest and longest-running strikes often included highly-paid employees, unhappy about some poorly-defined grievance that was not always salary-related.

And thinking now of a key manager moving on, ostensibly, for better money, perhaps his or her discontent may also not be salary-related. If we’re talking about someone whose departure is a serious loss to the organisation, then we can assume that their salary was probably not the main problem. So it was maybe some other issue that made them feel under-valued, and they possibly accepted the first job which offered a higher salary that would temporarily boost their self-esteem.  But ‘temporarily’ is the word. Experience shows that when people move on purely for the salary, they don’t stay long in that new job either.  Clearly a salary-figure is not always the prime factor in job satisfaction.

Alternative ego-boosters

So what issues in the daily work schedule or environment might induce talented employees to think about leaving the company or organization?  One factor is be the widespread feeling of being taken for granted. You perform to a high standard, month in, month out, sometimes putting in more than you strictly need to (because you love your work), and in return you receive a monthly payslip. Of course, you are remunerated but there maybe no active appreciation or recognition of a job well done.  Another factor is the feeling of being under-challenged. There is ample evidence that talent, training and qualifications, if underused, cause frustration and resentment. There is often a fine line between overload and underload, and employers need to monitor this balance with care.

Of course, when upgrading Management skillsets, there is a point here that some individuals may also become attractive to other companies.  Nevertheless, it is essential to ensure Continuing Professional Development, (CPD), of all executives and managers throughout the organization – although you also need to make sure that skills are utilized so that talent is not tempted to scan those appointments pages, looking for that mythical job where the grass seems, on paper, to be greener. 

 Key points about retention

  • With key managers, salary is not always the main cause of discontent
  • The culture of the organisation should ensure that Managers are valued and appreciated
  • Investment in training is essential to retain your top talent

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