Whenever a business experiences high employee turnover, strong leaders understand the key to success is to always blame someone else.
As a leader, maybe you’re frustrated by the inefficiency of your team, as you watch employees stand around the water cooler to talk shop?
You’re likely thinking, “There they are again, drinking the water we provide, standing there talking about who knows what.”
So what does a strong leader do?
They make hard decisions. In a scenario like the one described above – they make the tough decision to rid the office of the true productivity culprit, that hostile water cooler.
That’s how accountability works! Remove the source of the problem, right?!
Hostile water coolers and days gone by
Before we proceed, for the sake of clarity (and missed sarcasm), my reference to the “strong leader” illustrated above is, actually, quite the opposite.
Now that the hostile water cooler is gone, it’s time to tackle more complex issues. In lieu of the culprit far from sight, there’s still an issue with costly employee turnover. Your business has become a revolving door of disgruntled employees. This leaves you with no option but to spend more money to attract, hire and train new hires.
The same leaders who who rid their companies of hostile water coolers are the same people who frequent their own watering holes to lament about the good old days when employees were loyal.
Strong leaders believe employees leave their fine organizations for several misplaced reasons:
Those employees had issues
A strong leader would never see consistently high turnover as an indication of deeper organizational issues. And it’s certainly not be an indictment on the quality of leadership.
They clearly weren’t good employees
“If only we had good, loyal employees like the good old days.” A strong leader would never ask departing employees why they chose to leave.
We’ll just hire better employees
Hiring is an easy process. We can always find new hamsters to run our wheel. A strong leader would never inquire as to why good employees resign. There are greener pastures and plenty of people who can do their role better, right?!
The truth about employee turnover
“Employee turnover is usually expressed as a ratio, the number of employees who have left divided by the total number of employees. If a company has 100 employees and two of them leave, the turnover rate is two divided by 100, or two percent.” In the same way, “If a company of five loses two employees, that’s a forty percent turnover rate (2/5) and that’s a pretty high turnover rate.”
High employee turnover can become one of the deepest drains on organizational growth. It perpetuates a stasis in the development of your employees, inhibits engagement and results in poor client satisfaction.
Consistently high employee turnover is a blaring alarm for prospective new hires and clients. It’s a silent warning to proceed with caution.
Yet, for the “strong leader” referenced above, that same blaring alarm is either ignored or amplified to a pitch they cannot recognize. Travis Bradberry, the co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, notes that, “Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.”
Where do we go from here?
According to Gallup, Jack Welch, the dynamic and revered former chief executive of General Electric, “said on many occasions that every year the bottom 10% of his organization needed to be replaced.” And for many leaders the first step is to decide what turnover rate is acceptable.
However, if you consistently experience high turnover and subsequently blame employees “that just weren’t a right company culture fit,” then you are reaping what you sow.
“There is a high cost to employee turnover. The higher the employee turnover rate the higher the cost. Smart companies work hard to measure employee satisfaction and act to minimize turnover. It is cheaper to keep your current employees motivated and productive than it is to find, hire, and train new ones.”
A real leader will ask painful questions and work to change the trend. Change requires listening. You have to take internal inventory and ask earnest questions like: Why are we unable to attract, motivate and keep high quality employees?
So, bring the water cooler back.
Don’t wait to discuss your frustrations at your own exclusive “leaders only” watering hole. Instead, engage your team. You may find the answers are closer than you thought.
This article has been edited.
Jon Isaacson of IZ Ventures is a green belt in the puzzle art of business (Connect. Collaborate. Conquer). He works as a freelance writer and consultant to assist entrepreneurs to clarify their vision, optimize productivity and follow through with creative solutions. Jon is a family man, coaches, writes, speaks and serves as director of local facilities networking group LFMC. Connect with @iz_fnb on Twitter.
Photo Credit: AIzzy Lettering