One of Amazon’s Top Executives Just Resigned. It’s a Valuable Lesson About How to Keep Your Top Performers


Amazon consumer CEO Dave Clark, recently announced his resignation in a Tweet, proving that even some of the most coveted employers are not Great Resignation-proof. The longtime Amazon executive said, “I’ve had an incredible time at Amazon but it’s time for me to build again. It’s what drives me.” That drive to build is what causes most top performers to leave their perch, no matter how high it is. 

It’s not that there isn’t enough money. There’s not enough room for growth. But not growth in terms of the height of the corporate ladder. Rather, the potential heights they can take the business to. So when the opportunities slow or stop, they feel there’s nowhere else they can go with the business. 

The result? They go elsewhere.

As staffing continues to become increasingly difficult, employers are not only left scrambling to fill positions, but retain employees. More specifically, their top employees. When the strangest Great Resignation strategy is also the most effective, understanding what motivates staff will help you retain your employees, and attract new ones.  

Top Performers Thrive On Room For Improvement 

When top performers come into a new company or position, they are motivated by the sheer work that needs to be done. They feed off of challenges and thrive on room for improvement. In other words, top performers like having problems to solve, big goals to contend with, and something to strive for that is currently out of reach. 

It’s within the space between where a top performer is and where they want to be that motivates them to get there. It’s the uphill battle that drives them to charge ahead full-force. It’s what makes them excited to do their job, to come up with innovative ideas, and make progress. It’s how they feel as though they’re having an impact, pursuing their passion. 

Job Satisfaction Depends On The Pursuit Of Movement 

For many, job satisfaction depends on job security and stability. But for top performers (and entrepreneurs alike), security can feel more like stagnation than contentment. Rather than feeling at peace within a stable organization where there is little demand (or desire) for growth, top performers will likely feel stuck. 

At large and mature companies such as Amazon, milestones don’t have miles between them the way they do at new ventures and young companies. When the future of the organization doesn’t depend on growth but maintenance, projects typically center around fine-tuning. 

These slight optimizations often aren’t fulfilling to the doer who desires mass movement to feel productive. Seemingly small amounts of movement can feel like small amounts of progress. And for top performers, small amounts of progress can feel more like failure than success. 

When The Work Is Done, Doers Move On 

Top performers are fueled by a passion to innovate, produce, and make progress. But for many of them, once they can no longer achieve those ambitions they lose interest. Or their employer loses interest in their ideas. 

Many reach the end of their road when they realize they no longer share their employer’s vision. Because they see things differently, they don’t necessarily see the progress they’ve made as the final destination (as the organization might), but a point along the path to something even bigger. 

Businesses of every size need the doer in order to get things done, reach goals and move the dial towards becoming all it can be. Even trillion-dollar companies like Amazon have space to grow, but that doesn’t always mean that the organization is giving its staff or executives the room they desire. To keep top performers, innovators and doers happy, give them space to create, innovate and expand–or you can expect them to go. 

The Great Resignation didn’t start with the pandemic, says the Harvard Business Review. Nor will it end with it. But it can end within your organization.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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