Hey boss, why are we always losing our best people?

Let me start by telling you right away, most of the time, the boss doesn’t have a clue why the best AAEAAQAAAAAAAAWTAAAAJGUwMmVkNjRmLWM4YjEtNGI4NS1hNjEwLWRmMmExM2Q2OTFiMgpeople are leaving! I also want you to know, it’s usually because of the boss.

“People quit people, not companies.” ~ John C. Maxwell

Numerous studies have determined that the #1 reason people leave a company is because of their relationship with their boss.

There’s nothing worse for a team, department, and organization than hiring and developing people only to have the best ones always leaving. It’s also expensive, even the poor leaders know this. Why? Because poor leaders are more concerned with the numbers than the people. They know what’s going on. But, they don’t know why. They really don’t. Yes, I know it’s sad. That’s why I do what I do.

“Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives not numbers. Managers look after our numbers and our results, and leaders look after us.” ~ Simon Sinek

If you work for a really bad organization, there’s something worse than having the best people leave. What’s that? Only having the worst people stay and all the rest, the average people and the best people, leave. If you work for a company like this, I have one very serious question for you. Why?!?

There’s a metric used to measure what I’m talking about. It’s called turnover.

I’ve literally worked with organizations that have several hundred percent turnover. If you’re not familiar with turnover as a metric, let’s say we have 100 employees. If we have a 10% turnover, this means 10 employees are hired annually. If we have 100% annualized turnover, 100 employees are hired annually. This really happens. And often, it’s worse!

If we have a 200% turnover, 200 employees are hired annually to support an organization with only 100 employees. This doesn’t mean everyone leaves. Some may have been there 20 years. But there, are some that only stay a few days or weeks and have to be steadily replaced.

I’m telling you. I have seen this repeatedly. Some companies really struggle to find people, the worst in the job market, which will actually stay. These companies are terribly led and blame the turnover on the “bad” people they’re hiring. When actually, the “bad” people are staying, and the “better” people are leaving.

The higher the turnover, the bigger the problem. And, it’s not at the bottom. It’s at the top!

The turnover metric also measures something else indirectly. Leadership! The higher the turnover, the worse the leadership. Not sometime, every time. Of course, when there is high turnover, those leaders will simply say things like this, “We can’t find any good people. There just aren’t any good people out there. People just aren’t loyal like they used to be.” Blah…blah…blah. Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.

What’s interesting is that the very best led companies have hundreds and often thousands of people applying for a single position when one finally opens up. They don’t do a lot of hiring because their turnover is low. Their people are loyal, just like in the old days. They don’t have a problem finding good people. Their halls and facilities are full of them.

Remember, when I said earlier that the boss doesn’t have a clue why the best people leave. It’s because there’s a huge blind spot between them and the mirror. Whenever we place the cause of our results outside of ourselves, it’s an excuse, not a reason.

Knowing how many poorly led companies there are out there, I’m sure there are some reading this thinking, “I work for a company like this. The bosses don’t have a clue. Only the worst people stay.” If you’re thinking this, you’ve also got a problem. If you’re aware that only the worst people stay, why aren’t you aware that you’re one of them? It’s time to wake up! You also have a blind spot between you and the mirror.

I saw the following on a sign some time ago, “If the truth hurts, it probably should.” If this is you, quit goofing off after work and on the weekends. Get intentional. Lead yourself. Begin by developing yourself, so you will have options that you don’t have today.

5 Reasons the Best People Leave

  1. Their boss is an insecure leader. The boss tries to keep people in the same position. The boss is afraid of someone taking his/her job.
  2. Their boss doesn’t care about them. They don’t feel valued. The boss is more concerned with their work than with them.
  3. They don’t trust their boss or the boss’s boss. They feel manipulated much more than they feel motivated.
  4. They literally know more than their boss. Their talents and capabilities aren’t being utilized. They want to contribute but feel overlooked.
  5. They have outgrown the organization. They are growing at a faster rate than the boss and the boss’s boss. They are hungry for growth and want to make a difference, but aren’t allowed to do so.
  6.  (There are more than 5 reasons. Add your thoughts in the comment section below.)

Jim Lundy had a humorous take on this in his book, Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way. In it, he includes the response of people who work in an environment where leaders hold back from them. He writes about the “Subordinates Lament,” which says, “We the uninformed, working for the inaccessible, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful!” And the “Mushroom Farm Lament” goes like this: “We feel we’re being kept in the dark. Every once in a while someone comes around and spreads manure on us. When our heads pop up, they’re chopped off. And then we’re canned.”

5 Reasons the Worst People Stay

  1. They are insecure. They feel the company is doing them a favor by allowing them to work there. They feel they can’t find another job.
  2. They have a lot of baggage. They felt lucky to get the job in the first place. They know most (better) companies would not hire them.
  3. They don’t have options. They haven’t developed themselves and don’t want to develop themselves. They are happy to do their time and get a check.
  4. They don’t like change. They hope they never have to find another job or get moved to a different department. They live for the status quo.
  5. They don’t value people because they don’t value themselves. They fit in because they don’t care and neither do the bosses.
  6. (There are more than 5 reasons. Add your thoughts in the comment section below.)

“A good leadership coach will do everything in his power to help you close the gap between your potential and your performance. That may entail brutal honesty. Why? Because the painful truth is the fast track to increased performance.” ~ Andy Stanley

Note: If your turnover is too high and you want to look in the mirror and take responsibility for addressing the root cause, the leadership of the organization, I’ll be happy to accept the responsibility of helping you grow and develop the leadership team. However, if the top leader doesn’t want to be involved, please find someone who is only interested in helping for the money. I truly want to make a difference and know it won’t happen without the top leader’s support and involvement. I don’t want to waste your time or mine.

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Mack Story

My passion is helping people understand what’s common sense isn’t always common practice. I help leaders at all levels develop 360° of influence. The result: they take more responsibility and lead with speed.