Alliant Consulting Aligning people, processes and metrics to meet your business goals.

Which employees are leaving your team?
One reason good people leave good jobs and what you can do about it.

“Companies ramped up hiring in September, and more Americans — the most in over six years — were confident enough to quit their jobs, the government reported Thursday.” – Associated Press, 11/13/14

As the economy is ticking upward and unemployment dropping, retaining valuable employees is becoming a critical success factor. Employee defection must be treated with the same gravitas as customer defection.

Turnover isn’t always a bad thing; people get promoted and others move on because they struggle to contribute or fit in with your team culture. New people bring new perspective and energy to the team. Even if your turnover is at or below average there are signs that warn of toxic turnover:

  • Your informal leaders start looking for other options
  • Employee loss impacts your customers or sales
  • Critical skill gaps are growing along with backlogged work and/or missed deadlines
  • High performers move out of the team to lateral positions in or outside the company

If you are losing valuable contributors, start investigating to learn why and stop the trend. Companies expect managers to track and react to signs of exodus, but what if a manager is the problem?

Remember the adage, “never quit a good job because of a bad boss”? The idea was that you would outlast a poor performing manager because they’d be identified and dismissed. While that adage probably still holds some truth, today’s workforce is less willing to work for ill-equipped managers or in poorly managed work environments, and now they have choices.

Why do so many people have to leave before the poorly performing leaders go? What could we do to address the issue before losing great team members?

We recommend establishing and measuring a few key performance goals as indicators of management effectiveness:

  • Overall performance goals are met X% of the time
  • 80% of the team members meet individual performance goals at least 90% of the time
  • There are at least three people with the skills to cover any position on the team at all times
  • Every new hire or newly promoted team member is moved through a position-specific onboarding plan until they are fully trained for all aspects of their position, and positions for which they might provide back-up.
  • Departmental churn must be no more than 25% per year, with at least 60% of that number being internal promotions

There will, of course be conditions in which these particular goals may not be viable, but the point remains: Hold managers accountable for meeting performance expectations just as we hold staff accountable for meeting theirs. If a manager’s performance is slipping, find out why. Clarify expectations and be sure she has the tools and training to fulfill those expectations. It may not reduce turnover, but you will start to lose the “right people” and retain the contributors. The impact on your business performance will be profound and given the changing employment landscape, this may be one of the most important steps you can take to gain competitive advantage.


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