I received a letter from my mother the other day. In it she said, "I would like to see you spending some time in learning what kinds of things would motivate a company to keep an employee." That is a great question. Here is my answer:

Dear Mom,

"What kinds of things would motivate a company to keep an employee"? In my case with IBM, adequate funding would have motivated the manager to keep me.

On my next job, it will be intelligence and attitude. Within a few weeks on a new job, I can see where my abilities (related to intelligence) rank on the team. Usually, my rank is quite good. I can see whom I can learn from, everyone actually, but some more than others, and I can see whom I can teach. But attitude is just as important. Not everyone hates his/her job, but most would rather be doing something else. I love my job so much that I would do it for free, and I do. Ask the average person how long he would like to stay with his current employer. He/she will probably tell you, "a few years". A company would be motivated to keep me because I'm not going to voluntarily leave anyway. I want my next employer to be my last. Finally, let me say that I genuinely care about the product. That attitude results in many positive behaviors, including the quest for more efficient methods of getting work done, both for the near term and the long term. By acting in the best interests of the product, I am the ultimate team player. The team is more productive as a result of my presence, whether I'm in a leadership role or not. What company wouldn't want an employee like that?

A company would also be motivated to keep an employee when its perception of that employee's intelligence and attitude agrees with reality. One thing that I have learned is that perception must be managed. If the employer's perception is inaccurate, the employee has a responsibility to influence it.