Retention… At What Cost?

Posted on: January 9th, 2012

I’m noticing a perilous situation in businesses. Employers are apprehensive of calling people to task and holding them accountable, even fearful of reprimanding poor performance. Managers are frequently ignoring behaviors, which in the past would be deemed unacceptable. As a result, employees are sensing they can “get away with things”. This is a result of the growing problem of talent shortage.

Here are some interesting discoveries from our recent research on employee engagement:

  • 92% say their company does not deal with poor performers
  • 44% leave their jobs due to co-workers disengagement

In my book “I Quit But Forgot To Tell You” I cite numerous examples of the effects of disengagement on customers – on managers – on productive employees. 76% of managers admit their single greatest challenge is low productivity. I believe it’s time to take action. As the commercial says, “This is not a going problem – it’s a growing problem”.

I observed an interesting scenario while checking into a major chain hotel recently. A front desk employee decided he couldn’t deal with all the customer requests, expectations, and rudeness. He called the front desk manager over and announced he was leaving. The manager, ignoring the line of check-ins, took the employee over to a couch in the corner of the lobby and spent over an hour talking with the employee – in essence trying to convince him to stay – I know because I eavesdropped and apparently this wasn’t the first time this has happened. Meanwhile one front desk person was left to deal with the growing line of frustrated guests.

There are 3 separate – yet connected – issues here.

  1. The employee that is apparently leaving.
  2. The negative message sent to the customers with only one front desk person left to handle the job.
  3. The front desk manager.

Some things to ponder: What would have been the correct way to deal with this? What could the manager have done to temporarily calm the disgruntled employee and also help service the line of guests? Or was this employee so self-centered and cared so little about the customers and the organization? Are managers so afraid to make the right decision when it comes to disengaged employees?

More from our research. It takes the average boss between 9 to12 months to fire a disengaged worker. Why?

I believe management needs to be tough but fair:

  • Hold people accountable
  • Define these accountabilities – get consensus early on in the job not one year later during a performance review
  • Address poor performance immediately and set specific time frames for improvement
  • Spend more time with your star performers than you do with poor performers
  • Involve star performers in areas of the business they may not be involved in routinely
  • Hire only those who match your culture and the specific job/position benchmark

People want to grow and develop. Provide this “greenhouse”. Eliminate the dead and dying plants that suck up the oxygen and screw up your eco system.

Have you witnessed occurrences like this?

Posted In: Employee Retention

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