The Great Resignation with Amit Kothari

For months now, companies have been navigating a new era of work. It is called “the great resignation.” It is not a problem you can afford to ignore. Let’s look at the drivers of the great resignation and develop a plan to move forward. Today’s guest is Amit Kothari, Executive Coach at Kothari Leadership Enterprises, LLC. Kothari Leadership & Business Advisory provides executive coaching focused on leadership and achieving business results. Amit and I look at the fundamental elements behind the great resignation. You will be surprised by some of the data and principles driving the mass exodus at all companies. Discover how you can attract and keep top talent. Let the great resignation be a problem your competitors have to overcome.

Don't miss an episode. Subscribe to Growth Think Tank.

Amit Kothari: The Transcript

About: Amit Kothari is an Executive Coach at Kothari Leadership Enterprises | “CEO Whisperer” Coaching to Breakthrough Results. Amit is known as the “CEO Whisperer™” provides executive coaching focusing on leadership and business results to CEOs and their teams in public and private companies from start-up to $2 Billion. Prior to starting his own practice, Amit was the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of private and public companies.

Share the LOVE and TWEET about this episode.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Amit Kothari: Engaged to disengaged, not good or bad, not successful, not successful, not rich, not poor. How engaged versus disengaged are you in the game of really being curious about what’s going to retain your people? Default to things such as oh, comp is the reason they’re going to stay or leave. We’re finding that’s not as much as comps being thrown out there right now. In fact, that’s not the reason people leave.

[00:00:26] Gene Hammett: Welcome to growth think tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Jean habit. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of. Are you ready to grow?

[00:00:44] Today we talk about the great resignation. Do you have a plan for what’s going on right now, inside your organization? If your employees were to have a mass Exodus? Well, I think you should be proactive about this. This, this is the one place where I think a lot of people are sleeping. [00:01:00] So Mackenzie put out some research recently that said 40% of employees say they’re likely to leave in the next three to six. Nope. McKinsey is a really top-notch firm. They do a lot of deep research. So I taking this with a little bit of grain of salt, but the great resignation is something that we need to be planning.

[00:01:19] My special guest today is another executive coach Amit Kothari, who has a breadth of experience inside of working with CEOs of growth companies. We have this great conversation about the great resignation. We look at some of the aspects that you’re not thinking about. What’s really going on behind the scenes, the symptoms of this and what you can do to get ahead of it all inside this.

[00:01:42] Now, let me ask you a question too. If you’re thinking about your own journey as a leader, do you have a plan for growth? Your employees should have a plan for their increased performance on the sales play field that you’re working on. Your marketing people should have a plan. Don’t you think you should have [00:02:00] a plan to be a better.

[00:02:01] No, I’m not calling you to the mat on that, but I’m just, I’ve noticed that a lot of leaders when you ask them, and when I asked them, what would it take for them to be a better leader? They don’t have very good answers. I think you should have an answer to that question. I know what it’s going to take for me to be a better coach.

[00:02:15] I know what it takes for me to be a better dad, better. You should be able to answer the question. What will it take me to be a better leader? Well, if you want to figure out what that is, I’d love to talk to you about it because I think I could shed a light on some of the areas where you’re probably not thinking might be missing.

[00:02:30] And all you have to do is go to and schedule your call. I’d love to help you become a better leader. Hope you become the leader that your team deserves. Just go to and schedule your call. Now here’s the interview with Amit Kothari..

[00:02:44] Amit how are you?.

[00:02:45] Amit Kothari: Good to see you Gene.,

[00:02:46] Gene Hammett: I’m excited to talk to you about our topic today. We have a very interesting one. That’s very dear and near, near, and dear to a lot of people. But tell us a little bit about

[00:02:54] Amit Kothari: your background. I mean sure. Thanks for having me great to be speaking to the audience. I think [00:03:00] what’s relevant here is I’m in the third, third of my. The third, third looks like coaching CEOs and their executive teams and growth.

[00:03:07] We have a team around a particular model that will, so I’d probably intertwined somewhere today to help everyone and give people insights into growing their companies. And my prior two thirds where being the COO and CFO of a couple of growth companies one went from 30 million to 120,000,040.

[00:03:21] And the other one 15 to 40 with an exit to ticket master. And so those two experiences along with a failure along the way, many failures every day helped sort of create the experience that with which we coach now. And then the first, third of my career was a merger and acquisition. Around around the world.

[00:03:38] So a little bit of, a little bit of everything, I guess.

[00:03:40] Gene Hammett: Fantastic. Well, we’re going to have a different kind of interview today. I don’t know if I would quite call this an interview, but I think there’s a big topic that’s going on right now that that a lot of people want to tune into. They’re hearing the news about this thing called the great resignation or the great act attrition as McKinsey has. Named it, but what is the great resignation in your perspective?

[00:03:58] Amit Kothari: From we can all read about this in [00:04:00] articles that are out there with Inc and Mackenzie and Harvard business review. And I think our unique perspective here today involves, you know, what the, the grid resignation is a beautiful term that started in 2019 and manifests.

[00:04:12] In maybe in our lives in 11.5 million people resigning in Q2 of 2021. And you can say, oh wow, that’s temporal to that moment. But as you and I would coach our clients, we’d look sort of more broadly and say, okay, societally speaking, what’s been happening the last six months, the last two years, the last 20.

[00:04:33] And so in context of that, I believe the societal contract between employees and employers. You paid, it’s something very simple. You pay me. I give you my time. I think we are experiencing now a shift in the composition of that relationship. That exchange that’s been happening now includes things like, what did we talk about?

[00:04:50] Mindfulness. We leads to what purpose the COVID changed when, where, how, and with whom. And so I think somewhere employees, both blue and [00:05:00] white color are asking themselves, who do I work with? Where am I working? With what purpose I’m working there, even looking at what is the success that we’re achieving and am I sort of connected to that?

[00:05:10] And COVID in particular gave us what time at home, right. And some time at home. It’s not that thing. We, the bookie person we all thought about, oh, you know, I get away from home to go to work. Cause it’s more peaceful. There ain’t a joke we used to all make. Now maybe we said, wait a minute. When I slowed down and we’re connected at home, I’m in love with my family.

[00:05:32] I’m in love with my children. I’m in love with life. I’ve been moving too fast. And so somewhere deeper, this connection between money and time really brings a new topic. So that’s some context I love to go back and forth with you on is for me, the great is far bigger than the last six months. It’s a change in the relationship.

[00:05:51] And I think we have to all be more mindful of that and not take it as a moment in time. Yeah, I think.

[00:05:57] Gene Hammett: A lot of people would like to say blame it on COVID [00:06:00] right. That this happened because we now work from home and now we show flexibility. But I think reality, it was starting before this because I think employees were asking for flexibility.

[00:06:10] They were asking for a little bit more purpose and mission inside their work money. Was somewhat important, but it was never number one on their list when you’re working with clients and they think money solves the problem. Where do you typically

[00:06:23] Amit Kothari: take that conversation? Yeah. I think there is not a survey I have seen that says employers think pay is number one and employees agree with them.

[00:06:32] Yeah. Have you, I’ve never seen. Yeah. So, so where I go is I try to point my CEO’s to the data. And then I try to take them to, what is the bias inside of you that allows you to come up with that answer? You know, all of us w Inc all Inc 5,000. Are super smart, super driven. And they figured out their business model.

[00:06:53] That’s a lot, right. Just to even do that is a lot. And then you get a little bias, like, okay, I’m exhausted thinking about all that. And that’s my [00:07:00] job. Well, you know, people’s your job too. We all know that. And when you’re growing, what gets sort of less attention is the people. And I think that’s one of the things we, you and I work with our clients on is to try to bring them more awareness of you know, things that are more in front of the.

[00:07:14] Rather than esoteric and big vision, you

[00:07:16] Gene Hammett: bring up the fact that people are important. And I think every CEO would tell you that their people are important, but then if you really dig into it and you and I have some data here, I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you before I made, but I asked a lot of the founders and CEOs that have been on this podcast.

[00:07:31] Some of my clients, some of the people that have not been on the show, but I asked them what I call the impossible question. And it’s impossible. It doesn’t really have a right answer to it is in, you know, it’s this way all the time, but here’s the way the question looks or goes it’s as a leader, what’s more important your customers or your employees.

[00:07:49] And I don’t know if you’d be surprised by this, but fast-growth companies, companies that are truly taking, you know, scaling fast through the organization. Maybe they’re two X, three X, five X, some of 10 X, [00:08:00] even faster. They will say. That their employees are the most important for their job as leaders, 93% is the data I have.

[00:08:08] Amit Kothari: do you think about that? I love it. And I’ve had several projects that fit right into the model you’re talking about. I’ve actually had to have leaders who used to say customers are number one and they literally post it around the office. I’ve literally had two clients in particular, put up signs that says, I love my employees.

[00:08:26] Seemed like a silly thing to do, but it literally shifted the mindset to when I care about my people, they care about my customers and it fit. Doesn’t fit perfectly into the word scaling. How do you scale through you? And, and I think that’s the race and the game we’re in to retain talent, like never before a CEO, learning to get what they need by serving the needs of the team internally.

[00:08:48] And you said something, all of our CEOs say they care about their people and the. I agree with you 100% in absolute, I don’t think there’s any one CEO who doesn’t at [00:09:00] least have 1% of care for their employees. Oh, you’re laughing yet. We both agree. Right. So, so I think the question is how much do you care?

[00:09:07] Let’s start thinking of this on a continuum. How, and this word I’d like to, I think I’m going to use today a couple of times engaging. To disengaged, not good or bad, not successful, not successful, not rich, not poor. How engaged versus disengaged are you in the game of really being curious about what’s going to retain your people and not default to things such as, oh, come.

[00:09:32] Is the reason they’re going to stay or leave. We’re finding that’s not as much as comps being thrown out there right now. In fact, that’s not the reason people

[00:09:40] Gene Hammett: leave. Hold on. Let me just talk about serving the team. Your job as a leader is not to serve the customers is to serve the people that are right in front of you.

[00:09:49] And maybe it’s the executive leadership team. Maybe it’s the, the directors underneath them. Maybe it’s the frontline managers. Maybe it’s the frontline employees. Your job is to serve the team. Yep. You’ve got to put a lot of your [00:10:00] attention on the executive team because they’re serving everyone else. This servant leadership really does mean something.

[00:10:06] Now I work with a lot of leaders who get this a little bit wrong. And one thing I would love to tell you is you can take servant leadership too far. You can serve them too much. You can be too empathetic. You can be too nice. And a lot of that is fixed through coaching. So if you have any questions about what that is, make sure you reach out to me.

[00:10:25] Back to, I mean, I want to ask you this question because it brings us back to this great resignation thing of what are the symptoms we should be looking out for as executives of companies that could have a problem where we’re going to lose a lot of employees.

[00:10:40] Amit Kothari: W what a great, what a great question to help your, your listeners anticipate something.

[00:10:44] So what someone may say, well, the resignations it’s obvious. Well, isn’t that too. Isn’t it too late. By the time you do data-based analysis, which we all should do by the way and specify it down to demographic segment, job [00:11:00] title, geographic location in our, you know, dispersed organization. All that data is important to come back to what root cause and see the symptoms.

[00:11:10] And so my belief in the work I do is there’s a lack of engagement back to that, back to that spectrum of engaged versus disengaged. Now we’re not going to. To only the CEO, we’re going to apply it to the employees. So what could, what could this it, what a forms of disengagement looked like? It looked, it could look like apathy to quiet, to a minimal people going along in your organization because they’re getting along.

[00:11:34] And why, why would that be? Because of the fear of change, the fear of speaking up is greater than their passion in the moment for creating what they believe. Is the right way to go now is that to say every employee and every idea they have is right? No, of course not. But here’s the second piece of it. How are we engaging?

[00:11:51] The next symptom is, are we engaged enough that we’re hearing the employee’s skill in execution versus their emotional [00:12:00] engagement? And how can we listen for if they’re not skillful enough? How do we have, what hard conversations? That are carrying conversations that will relate to them increasing their business acumen.

[00:12:12] So what we can listen to them. So a couple of things I look for in symptoms is people being disengaged and then the lack of hard conversations. And let me, if, if you, sorry for going on. The quick, last one is people not showing up to work and that could happen in an hour. That could happen for a day. But think about it.

[00:12:29] Why are they not showing up? Do they have a childcare problem? Do they have a healthcare issue? Do they have a coverage issue at home? Do they have a place? They can’t really work at home. Is there too much violence at home? Like all life has now merged into work and the opportunity for our CEOs who are growing.

[00:12:43] It is more work, but the opportunity is to have teams of leaders be engaged with their employees so we can help them manage through that change because that’s one thing COVID has brought is this overwhelmed, the sense of overwhelmed in us and our people and who leaders are, the ones that have to sort of put a [00:13:00] line in the sand and start making, making a change from that

[00:13:02] Gene Hammett: place and hard conversations.

[00:13:04] And I have this conversation quite a bit with my clients and I’ll ask them a very simple question in our coaching world. Whenever I see this going on. I asked him what’s the missing conversation. That’s great. Right? What hasn’t been said between you two, because there’s always been, something said maybe we’ve danced around it.

[00:13:21] Maybe they’ve even had a direct note heart to heart that they laid out the caring and, and more times than not, they’re avoiding something. So I’m kind of curious, what is the question you ask when you reach that moment? When. Not avoiding those hard conversations.

[00:13:36] Amit Kothari: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a great insight. So for me, it’s unfortunately not one moment in time.

[00:13:42] Cause by that moment, some things have accumulated. So what I try to do is do it in two or three phases that are more sort of digestible for all of us, because if it was that easy, we would have had the hard conversation before. So what I start with is, Hey, what’s going on in your life? Tell me more about the struggles you have.

[00:13:58] I try to come from an empathetic [00:14:00] place that does what. Psychological safety. And I try to let them be safe about something that otherwise may make me twinge, but I try to shut up because guess what, they’re going to tell me progressively more things about their day in their life. And I’ve got to teach my managers to do this and oh, by the way, when they’re having these conferences, I kind of somehow watch them because my managers may not be telling me all the little emotional explosions they’re causing between them and their people.

[00:14:26] That’s the place where the safety gets broken. Right. We can tell our folks all they want, Hey, have safe conversations. So we got to make sure we’re watching that that’s the micro touch we can have. And then we can drop down as CEOs once or twice, and just check in on the direct reports of our managers and see if that’s really happening.

[00:14:42] So. One contextual point. Then I try to let them, as I said, bring up one or two things that are scary that make me cringe, but then I worked through it with them so they know they’re safe. And then what I find is when I open that space information flows, I don’t have to do anything after that. But what does that take [00:15:00] patience?

[00:15:00] Because what are we’re addicted to growth as CEOs of fast-growing companies? Not, not all of us are addicted to operational issues and certainly many less of us are addicted to culture. It feels. And so this therein lies the patients and then the micro touches, we call them to make sure we’re getting out of people, the information they have inside

[00:15:20] Gene Hammett: of them culture there.

[00:15:22] And I want to dive into something there. There’s a couple of questions I have. Area of culture, but the first one is, and this one may be short, but in a small organization, maybe less than 500 employees who should own culture.

[00:15:33] Amit Kothari: Great question. So the short answer is that we all know the CEO should own culture.

[00:15:39] And I think the longer conversation for some other time is how does a CEO decide how to make the time of their multiple roles to work within their city, their structure? How do we create culture through micro? Touches that are systematically driven through our managers, through HR, through our culture [00:16:00] handbook, through our onboarding culture are a bunch of micro touches.

[00:16:04] And I think that may be the easiest way to digest it because otherwise, it’s overwhelming. I know you’ve

[00:16:08] Gene Hammett: do some work. What’s the formula and doing culture

[00:16:11] Amit Kothari: well, so we think about it as a sort of four steps, four shifts. The first thing we would do that we think is just sort of universal is audited your leaders and their behaviors and give them, give them assessment scores.

[00:16:26] And the ability to create a safe environment. The second thing we think always needs to be done is review your strategy just enough to understand how effective is it in creating above-average above-market returns and how inspiring is it? And it’s within the bucket of inspiring. Is how well do your people actually know it and how well are they living?

[00:16:46] It, that’s a huge, lost opportunity. So that’s step two, number three, interview your employees to make sure, you know, just like anyone else would have to make sure they’re feeling it and where they’re not feeling it. It could be as simple as walking down the hallway and going, Hey, what’s what is our core purpose?

[00:16:59] What are our core values? [00:17:00] You know, to the extent we haven’t spent time training them nor making it a heartfelt store, multiple heartfelt stories every week around how these things are deployed in our company, we’re not creating the. In our organization or that heart in our organization, then finally step four, work with executives to have these hard conversations and train them to have to bring up the topics that are difficult for them and the employee without repercussion, make it a debate, a discussion, not a result at that moment.

[00:17:27] Then finally, the shifts, the four shifts that happen when you. It’s shifting your strategy a little bit, shifting our behaviors a little bit, shifting your processes in terms of how we want to retain people. And then finally work with employees to bring out their purpose at work. There should be far more stories after all this, there should be far more smiles and stories about how we’re having fun, making a difference.

[00:17:47] Sounds simple, super hard to get to. Well,

[00:17:50] Gene Hammett: I want to take a moment here because we’ve been talking about hard conversations and I’ve recently. Something for my clients called the framework of the difficult conversation. And it really is a [00:18:00] walkthrough of what does it take to be prepared for difficult conversations?

[00:18:04] What are the things you need to pay attention to when you’re having them? And what happens after the conversation? So we’d look at the, before during and after of difficult conversations, it’s pretty in-depth. And if you want to get a free copy of that with no opt-in whatsoever, just go to gene for slash difficult conversations.

[00:18:23] It will forge you into this. You can download it, you can use it. I do ask that you give me credit for it. If you’re using it with your teams. I think my name is on the, on the document somewhere, but I want to share it with you. If you’re avoiding a difficult conversation or missing conversation as I call it, you want to make sure that you are prepared and you may want to have a conversation with your team about this.

[00:18:45] If you want to bring me in to help you figure out exactly what all the details of these are, how you use it. I love to do that for you as well, but I want to give you the framework so that you could use it too. Have some benefit if you see the value and more conversations around this, make [00:19:00] sure to reach out to me now back to mean, well, I don’t think any CEO would argue with you that it’s hard.

[00:19:05] Especially once a culture gets really moving and there’s a lot of people that are driving the train, maybe down the wrong tracks. It’s hard to get that back in place, but there are some ways to do it. We haven’t talked about this much. We talked a little bit, it’s not about money. It’s about people feeling a sense of connection and belonging.

[00:19:24] If we wrapped up today’s episode and you were talking to a CEO heart to heart about creating a place where people feel like they belong, what would you center that conversation on

[00:19:34] Amit Kothari: first is to say, as a growing company, CEO, you’ve been very successful. Great joy in that, because that joy is the mindset within which you have to then approach this conversation how to create the environment where everyone’s sharing those stories.

[00:19:51] And then you have to then decide how do I create systems that take care of a few other things I’m allocating my time to, and then bring your time into this because the larger [00:20:00] organization gets the more there is to have. The more, your time is pulled. So you have to become more systematic than transactionally oriented as a CEO.

[00:20:09] Okay. That puts you in the right place because as you touch people less, the magic is less period. So then you have to have systems and leaders below you that are more empathetic to carry your message through everyone. So that. Foundational then we have to do the things you and I have spoken about. Look at turnover, look at the data.

[00:20:27] Where is it happening? How do you put customized solutions in place for whether it’s geography role or demographics, where’s that turnover happening? How do you put specific solutions in those places? Then more than I care to me. Having an employee survey that you actually do something about that’s been written up for decades, but without the CEO slowing down and paying attention to that, it’s amazing how many people break down.

[00:20:50] Even HR breaks down when the CEO can’t slow down to reinforce that. And then I really would encourage something more than. Make sure [00:21:00] that your people are talking about the joy of work and talking about their stories and create socialization time. It sounds unproductive, but that’s the only way you get back to having purpose and you don’t have to create parties to do that.

[00:21:13] You can make sure your leaders learn how to have socialization within their business meetings. Within that one-hour meeting, take five or 10 minutes in. Always ask, how are you being on purpose today? How are you bringing purpose to your family and your life today? And then end the meeting asking how did we do on being on purpose and elevating everyone’s spirit?

[00:21:31] As we walked through this dialogue and be ready for the hard responses, because some of the reasons people are leaving meeting suck managers, suck, we suck, right? So you have to have the right courage to engender this conversation, but it was.

[00:21:44] Gene Hammett: Fantastic. I mean, you’ve shared a lot with us today. I know that we might not have covered something you feel is important.

[00:21:50] I want to give you just a little bit of chance to go into any direction you want to, as it relates to the great resignation, what have we

[00:21:56] Amit Kothari: missed today? Yeah. So I think this would [00:22:00] be fabulous for you when. It’s you know, now what, there’s this dimension that’s opened up of the competition. Now we’re competing for people, but it’s not as dire as it sounds.

[00:22:12] I believe all this has done is exposed more the chinks in our own armor around what we could be doing better from processing. From culture to measurement systems to leadership. I think this is simply a chance to clean up rather than trying to make this something bigger. Do you, is that how you’re talking to your,

[00:22:30] Gene Hammett: I’m trying to get my clients to get off of the focus on revenues and strategies and, you know, we, we are talking about.

[00:22:39] But it has not really become top of mine. And I, I start proposing the questions more than they bring them to me, which is probably not the best way to do this, but I want to make sure that we’re, we’re proactive, not reactive to this whole thing, which is part of my values as I bring to my own life and coaching.

[00:22:57] So I really appreciate you being here and sharing this [00:23:00] wisdom.

[00:23:00] Amit Kothari: Thank you. Appreciate it. I wish your audience, all the success. What an incredible

[00:23:04] Gene Hammett: a conversation with a fellow executive coach. I love what I’m doing. I love to be able to talk to others on the front lines or in the trenches with leaders, just like I’m doing, I love for them to share back some of the problems they’re having the challenges.

[00:23:16] The funny thing is every leader we know is having challenges. It doesn’t mean that you have no challenges. If your company is growing, you actually probably have more. And you have challenges that involve complexities. Which makes you require to be a better leader across the organization, because what you work with your team on cascades down to the rest of the company, and you want to make sure that you’re becoming the best leader.

[00:23:40] Yeah. Do you want to figure out what’s missing inside your own leadership in the next step forward, just go to Schedule your call. I’d love to talk to you about it. Put a spotlight on what does it take for you to be the best leader? You can be the leader that your team deserves. Just go to Jean and schedule your call.

[00:23:57] When you think of growth and you think of leadership, they have growth think [00:24:00] tank as always through the courage. We’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.




And lastly, please leave a rating and review for the Growth Think Tank on iTunes (or Stitcher) – it will help us in many ways, but it also inspires us to keep doing what we are doing here. Thank you in advance!

If you want more from us check out more interviews:

Transformational Leadership
Productivity Tips
Best Selling Author Interviews