BrainTrust Query: Top 10 Ways to Guarantee Your Best People Will Quit

Discussion
May 01, 2013

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of an article from TLNT, a blog dedicated to human resource issues. The article first appeared in the April 2013 Humetrics Hiring Hints newsletter.

Here are 10 ways to guarantee that your best people will quit:

10. Treat everyone equally. This may sound good, but your employees are not equal. Some are worth more because they produce more results. The key is to treat them all fairly.

9. Tolerate mediocrity. A-players don’t have to or want to play with a bunch of C-players.

8. Have dumb rules. Great employees want to have guidelines and direction, but they don’t want to have rules that get in the way of doing their jobs or that conflict with the values the company says are important.

7. Don’t recognize outstanding performance and contributions. Remember Psychology 101 — behavior you want repeated needs to be rewarded immediately.

6. Don’t have any fun at work. The notion that work cannot be fun is actually counterproductive. Find ways to make work and/or the work environment more relaxed and fun and you will have happy employees who look forward to coming to work each day.

5. Don’t keep your people informed. You’ve got to communicate not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly. If you don’t, the rumor mill will.

4. Micromanage. Telling them what they need to do and exactly how to do it can nip creativity in the bud. Instead, motivate them by explaining why their job is important and ask for input on how it could be done better.

3. Don’t develop an employee retention strategy. Employee retention deserves your attention every day. Make a list of the people you don’t want to lose and, next to each name, write down what you are doing or will do to ensure that person stays engaged and on board.

2. Don’t do employee retention interviews. Avoiding this practice will find you conducting exit interviews instead to see what you could have done differently.

1. Make your onboarding program an exercise in tedium. Employees are most impressionable during the first 60 days on the job. Every bit of information gathered during this time will either reinforce your new hire’s "buying decision" (to take the job) or lead to "Hire’s Remorse."

The biggest cause of "Hire’s Remorse" is the dreaded Employee Orientation/Training Program. Most are poorly organized, inefficient, and boring. Key management should get involved on the first day and make sure the orientation delivers and reinforces these three messages repeatedly:

A. You were carefully chosen and we’re glad you’re here;

B. You’re now part of a great organization;

C. This is why your job is so important.

What poor management practices or tendencies have you most frequently seen that cause retailers to lose their best associates? Which of the principles listed above do you find most instructive?

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22 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Top 10 Ways to Guarantee Your Best People Will Quit"

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David Livingston
Guest
4 years 2 months ago

Number 10, treating everyone equally, stands out. I see this a lot with front-line positions. A young rainmaker is hired and the person is a big draw to the store because of their friendly personality and willingness to go above and beyond with both the customers and employer. However, this person is paid the same low wage as the sloths. Employers need to realize the true worth of someone like this or the employee will be working for your competitor soon.

David Biernbaum
BrainTrust

In my 35 plus years in the CPG/Retail business and having managed over 1,000 people, and having been managed by supervisors and clients of my own, I would have no clue why any employer, boss, or client, would be anything less than transparent, honest, and approachable. Anything less often produces erroneous results.

Robert DiPietro
BrainTrust

The most frequent practice that causes the best associates to leave is treating everyone equally. The best performers wonder why they work so hard or why other associates don’t need to contribute as much. Move from individual incentives to team share and watch performance drop.

Roger Saunders
BrainTrust

Each of the points raised by Mel Kleiman in this blog are spot on. And his points in regard to orientation also have equal importance.

Alas, the job market in the U.S. has been adrift for the past 5 years, and human resource professionals have been thrust in a position of “managing out,” as opposed to obtaining, maintaining, and retaining one of their most valuable assets — people. Darkness doesn’t last forever, and Mel’s comments are an important reminder that now is the time to bone up on the maintaining and retaining of associates.

People, like money, flow to where they are welcome. And they stay where they are appreciated. Human resources can do a great service to their organizations by coaching their executive and management teams on this fact.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust
Solid advice, no doubt about it. And hey…what keeps your best employees is also what will keep your best customers. I’ll use slightly different language to describe how I see this issue of retaining the best and brightest. First, our organizations are all driven by fear. Every policy, procedure and level of bureaucracy is driven by fear. Fear will drive thinking people away faster than anything else. Keep only those rules that will keep people out of jail, hospital or bankruptcy court. Spoiler alert: there is more fear around the shop than you think. It isn’t just the focus on the individual that you need to have, it’s on the surrounding energy as well. Every touch-point for employees and customers is an energetic connection that will draw or repel. I could write a small book here but let’s pick a couple of simple examples: What kind of energy does the back staff room send out? Does it make employees think, “Gosh my employer must think a lot of me!” or is it on the verge of being condemned over fears of the Bubonic plague? The light, air and water — do they energize or drain the energy from your employees?… Read more »
Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

Recognizing and rewarding talent and independent thinking. All too often, in their excitement to develop policies, companies forget to empower their associates to make a judgement call based upon the immediate situation at hand — and then recognize and reward that initiative regardless of the policy.

Your sales associates are the human touch point of your brand and the most important ambassador in the world of the digitally empowered shopper. Management needs to encourage and empower its associates to become brand ambassadors and not just hired help.

Kevin Graff
BrainTrust

Missing from the great list above is: ignoring your staff. Staff today will quit when a shift is just another boring shift. They want and need attention. We’ve proven time and time again that turnover rates plummet when you spend more time training and coaching your teams. Pay attention to them and they’ll pay attention to you, the job and the customer.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
4 years 2 months ago

Great list, Mel! My personal #1 is “failure to appreciate.” Everyone likes to be told when they do a nice job, yet so many managers fail to do that. Appreciation goes a long way toward making employees feel part of the team and feel singularly appreciated, and helps them forget that they may be underpaid.

Kate Blake
Guest
Kate Blake
4 years 2 months ago

With too many meetings, too much training and too little incentives, the company demonstrates it’s “all talk and no action.”

Tom Redd
Guest

Two areas to comment on. (I work with many kids at the Lundgren retail center at U of A and my own nieces and other relations that I have “pushed” into retail.)

#1: My feedback matters. When an employee provides feedback to management, it is critical that someone respond fast. A call back vs. an email is a huge winner with the Millennials.

#2: Don’t have any fun at work. Retail is fun and the more fun you make it for your teams, the longer the best players will stay. Good floor teams help keep shoppers loyal. Find ways to make work more fun. Why make them suffer conformity. Retailers might try to establish a regional or nationwide program to support the Joy At Work program. Start with simple surprise store visits by fun execs. Lift some spirits; have a workshop on why smiling is a must. Make a moment in their life better. I can advise them in this area. 🙂

Be Happy…Be Retail!

gordon arnold
Guest

The reasons most employees leave the retail industry, on their own initiative, include low pay for exhausting work, reporting to inept management, and of course customer abuse with the perception of being technically abandoned by the company. The ten reasons attached to this article are high quality discussion points and will add to retention if properly addressed, but any quality of employee has difficulty staying in the face of the three mentioned here.

W. Frank Dell II
BrainTrust

The first bad practice I see is talking down to employees. I see managers who think, because they got promoted, they know everything and think the employees are idiots.

The second bad practice is favoring one employee over the rest due to non work-related factors. The other employees simply cannot compete and will leave.

David Zahn
Guest

Great stuff! The idea of linking how one’s job contributes to the good of the entire enterprise and sharing what the expectations and standards are in concrete terms (behavioral or result-oriented) is also of monumental importance.

Steven Collinsworth
Guest
Steven Collinsworth
4 years 2 months ago

I would have to say #9: Tolerate Mediocrity. Not enough retailers are watching and rewarding good service. At the same time, they’re not working to change behaviors of associates who don’t know how to provide good customer service or, worse, don’t care.

To answer the second question, I would say #4: Micromanaging. There are certain times that specific instructions and actions are necessary. But to not allow associates to work and do their jobs without managers meddling in every last detail is destructive and demoralizing.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

We are living in an era of creativity. Therefore, we should allow those we have chosen to become members of our team act as team members. I give those working with me to achieve mutually rewarding goals and the authority to make it happen.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

The surest way to lose your employees is to not care in the first place whether you do or not. Let’s be honest here: many — all too many — companies are only looking for a pulse and a pair of clear eyes three-out-of-four Monday mornings. Whether it’s the same group of people each week or a set of new ones doesn’t really matter to them. And maybe they’re right. But regardless, the whole organizational structure is designed to treat staff as interchangeable parts, an expense to be measured and gradually eliminated. You get what you give…less the three percent transaction fee, of course.

Mark Burr
Guest
4 years 2 months ago

Hear, hear, Mr. Dell. Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

Jonathan Marek
Guest

These are great. I’d add: “Don’t solicit their feedback and act on it.” A+ employees are the source of the best opportunities for improvement for the organization. Plus, the signal that we can all always get better resonates with true A players. We spend a lot of time and energy on this at APT, and there is a huge ROI on that time.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
4 years 2 months ago

Most, if not all, of these Top 10 Ways are testimony to rigid management policies and practices that have been codified over time. HR rules, such as “Thou shalt treat everyone the same.” In many ways, managers are constrained to do these things in their training manuals and elsewhere.

Mike Osorio
Guest
Mike Osorio
4 years 2 months ago

This is always the most obvious, yet the most difficult practice for managers: to actually lead. And leadership requires personalized focus on individual team members—and avoiding all 10 of these obvious, yet all-too-common mistakes.

The relevant exercise is understanding what stands in the way of exemplary leadership. Some obstacles stem from choosing the wrong managers. Others from onerous or unnecessary organizational practices and processes.

Focus on eliminating the obstacles and you will find the 10 mistakes less prevalent.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Culture can be a big driver of tenure, or something that drives employees away. You have to be sensitive to not only your corporate culture, but also how it may affect the new employee. Just be sure to allow some learning curve for the employee to settle into the culture. Don’t give up to easily.

Marie haines
Guest
Marie haines
4 years 2 months ago

Add number 11. Play favorites. Make sure you keep your loyal followers close and lavish them with special treatment, no matter how mediocre they are.

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