Your best employees are contemplating quitting. Some of them already have.
Survey results from Deloitte and others suggest that as many as 50 percent of your staff are planning to leave once the job market heals. Government statistics from April – June 2010 reveal that more employees are quitting their job than are being laid off.
Increased turnover always occurs after a recession. Pent up demand for new talent combines with pent up desire for something better, and the people with the best skills – your star employees – start listening to the offers for more money and opportunity.
Are you vulnerable? Chances are the answer is yes if you are guilty of any of the following:
• You expected miracles every day. Recessions require everyone to accomplish more with less. But, you expected people to do everything with nothing. What’s worse, you expected it to happen every day and were disappointed when it didn’t.
• You forgot to say Thank You. You rewarded your best employees for doing more with less by asking them to deliver even more with even less. And then, you didn’t stop to say a sincere thank you. That little speech where you acknowledged everyone for their hard work didn’t help with your best people. It simply ticked them off because you lumped them in with those who produced the minimum to get by.
• The leaders ate first. Ross Perot, Founder of EDS and Perot Systems, told me that the best leaders operate by the credo that the troops eat first. The leaders get whatever is left. You, on the other hand, handed out bonuses to your executive team while employees received no raises for yet another year.
• You stopped communicating a positive vision. Nobody wants to follow a leader who admits defeat before the battle is even fought. No … you shouldn’t paint a Pollyanna picture that is a lie. But come on, how about focusing on what needs to be accomplished to succeed rather than what must be avoided to fail?
• You violated their trust. Strong relationships that keep your people engaged and committed are built on trust. You lost that trust if you threw your people under the bus rather than stand up for them. You lost that trust if you went from open, honest communication during the good times to secrets in tough times. You lost that trust if you violated the values that you said were the core of your operating philosophy.
In the coming weeks, we’ll explore ways to rebuild and sustain a culture that focuses on results, relationships, and accountability. In the meantime, here’s a good place to start:
• Tell yourself the truth. You can’t repair what you refuse to acknowledge. Quit blaming the economy, your industry best practices, the misguided behavior of a few individuals, or whatever other excuse you can conjure up.
• Tell others the truth. If you are guilty of any of these transgressions, acknowledge it and apologize. If you are guilty of most or all of them, that apology should include a mea culpa where you admit just how badly you messed up.
• Ask for a chance to right the wrong. Some of you need to beg, but asking is a good place to start.
• Do something every day to show you are working to improve. Stopping the stupid stuff you’ve been doing is not enough. Your folks have seen you violate their trust and abuse the relationship for two years. You can’t wait until next quarter, next month, or even next week to do something different.
Remember: telephone and email lines are open, and your best employees are standing by to listen to someone else’s pitch.