Can We Tell When Someone is Thinking of Calling It Quits?

The Harvard Business Review (Gardner and Horn 2016) did their own research into whether or not one can tell, behaviorally, a person may be ready to quit an organization. They based their initial research on Buss and Shackleford’s well know study on “cues” romantic partners may give when they commit an infidelity; and on a series of studies by Gottman which demonstrated that small verbal and nonverbal cues recorded on short videos of married couples interacting could predict their eventual divorce.

Like romantic relationships, the HBR suspected that through proper research certain cues or behaviors may predict whether or not someone maybe thinking of quitting. Through a series of surveys given to hundreds of managers and other organization leaders, the HBR whittled down from 900 distinct behaviors 13 generalized behaviors that could be quitting cues.

The pre-quitting behaviors that made the cut are below:
1. Their work productivity has decreased more than usual.
2. They have acted less like a team player than usual.
3. They have been doing the minimum amount of work more frequently than usual.
4. They have been less interested in pleasing their manager than usual.
5. They have been less willing to commit to long-term timelines than usual.
6. They have exhibited a negative change in attitude.
7. They have exhibited less effort and work motivation than usual.
8. They have exhibited less focus on job related matters than usual.
9. They have expressed dissatisfaction with their current job more frequently than usual.
10. They have expressed dissatisfaction with their supervisor more frequently than usual.
11. They have left early from work more frequently than usual.
12. They have lost enthusiasm for the mission of the organization.
13. They have shown less interest in working with customers than usual.