KNOWING why a senior executive has resigned can help employers prevent or prepare for similar exits in future.

The previous article outlined a checklist of possible reasons and discussed the first three — progression opportunities, new challenges and remuneration.

This article looks at five more:

Poor communication

Clear and consistent communication between the senior management team ensures senior executives are fully involved within a business.

Without this, they are likely to feel excluded, undervalued and lack the confidence to make suggestions to company management.

Poor communication can also cause feelings of insecurity and paranoia about their position within the business, all of which can lead top-level managers to consider moving on.

By involving them in key decision-making from day one and valuing their opinions, employers are more likely to make senior executives feel part of the senior management team and businesses are more likely to retain them.

Company direction

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, businesses are under constant pressure to re-evaluate their strategy and direction. This can create problems for senior management.

Over time, some executives may become detached from the route that the organisation is heading in, while those who are prepared to run with the change — but who lack the support to bring it about — are likely to become frustrated.

Either way, it is difficult for executives with differing beliefs from the rest of the company to justify remaining with the business.

In these circumstances, effective communication between executives and management can ensure both sides are fully aware of the facts before either makes a rash decision.

Dilution of company brand

To be successful, senior management must believe in the fundamental brand values of the business.

As companies and their brands evolve over time, executives need to buy into this change. However, some may be unable or unwilling to do this.

For example, a senior executive may have little belief in a new product or service or may not have the appetite required to rebuild a diminished brand.

Although it depends on the exact circumstances of the situation, this may be a sensible time to part ways.

Loss of company support

A senior executive who loses the support of the company — be it through internal or external politics, change in company direction, communication difficulties or underperformance of the company — will find regaining it difficult.

Even if he is able to develop a solution for the bigger problem, he will be unable to push this through without the full and committed backing of the board and company as a whole.

Losing company support is a particularly common problem for senior executives at public-listed companies, which need to take shareholder opinion into account.

Personal circumstances

Personal circumstances can be the primary motivation for a senior executive to consider leaving his position.

Senior managers may decide against moving as part of a wider company relocation.

Executives who look for new positions may want a shorter commute to work, or to spend less time travelling on business.

Family commitments are often pivotal to their decision. In the right circumstances, businesses have allowed executives to carry out a suitable portion of their working week from home to retain them.

Long- or short-term illness can also be a difficult barrier to overcome.

In these circumstances, some businesses have employed affected executives in smaller advisory roles so that they can continue to contribute their expertise and experience, while at the same time reducing their personal commitment.

Explore options

The success of a senior executive is aligned with the wider success of a company — depending on circumstances, his resignation may or may not therefore be welcomed by the business.

If it is not, senior management should carefully consider the cause of resignation and explore the options available.

Where appropriate, improved remuneration packages, greater opportunities for career progression and demonstrating a reasonable understanding for individual personal circumstances can all persuade executives to stay.

Where senior managers are not prepared to reconsider, the business does not need to suffer.

Most organisations realise that the best executives are ambitious and are likely to seek new challenges in time.

Employers who prepare for these circumstances and put contingency plans in place are unlikely to experience too much disruption when a senior member of the staff leaves.

A parting of ways may sometimes be in the best interest of both parties.

For example, if an executive does not agree with a company’s change in direction or branding strategy or has lost the support of the organisation, a new appointment may be more willing and better suited to driving the business forward.