Avoiding The Revolving Door


Employee turnover can cripple a team and organization.  There is usually nothing gained when one of your best employees decides to take their talents to another business (I always think of Lebron James leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to head to South Beach and the Miami Heat and the crippling effect it had on the Cavs).  Recent articles show the following employee turnover statistics:

  1. A case study published which showed retaining a sales person for three years instead of two, along with better on-boarding and management practices, yields a difference of $1.3 million in net value to the company over a three year period.
  2. Josh Bersin of Deloitte believes the cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5–2.0x the employee’s annual compensation. These costs include hiring, on-boarding, training, ramp time to peak productivity, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover, higher business error rates, and general culture impacts.

*Huffington Post, 1/18/17, Jack Altman

So why are people changing jobs so quickly and leaving organizations?  There has been a shift over the last 5 years with Millennials entering the work force and this chart highlights the top reasons employees left jobs 5 years ago and why employees leave jobs in 2017…

Why employees leave companies 2012 Why employees leave companies 2017
1.       Compensation (base salary)

2.       Did not like their Manager

3.       Work/Life Balance

4.       Poor Career Development

5.       Long Term Vision of the company

1.       Poor Career Development

2.       Life/Work Balance (Flexible working environments)

3.       Feeling they are not being heard

4.       Looking for values that align with theirs

5.       Overall Compensation (Stock, 401k, etc…)

To put in a clearer way, the culture of your organization in 2017 plays a much bigger role in employee satisfaction then it did just 5 years ago.  Strategic vision and strong tactical planning are still the cornerstones for any successful business, but if your organization is not addressing culture and employee development with the same level of investment, your company will be in a constant state of on-boarding new hires (the revolving door).

Here are some best practices for leading others to promote positive employee engagement:

  1. Your People Come First: If you are a leader, you are relying on your team to represent you whether internally for meetings or externally for customer service. Spend quality face time (this means in person and not over Skype or email) with your direct reports discussing where they want to be in 1-3 years and what specific tactics you can work with them on.  If you are not spending this one-on-one time with your employees, someone else will be soon.
  2. Listen More Than You Talk: If a leader is talking more than they are listening, they are typically not genuine in their approach. “Listening to Understand” is much more valuable than “Listening to Respond”.  An interesting approach is to watch poor listeners engage others and see how the conversation goes. I have seen a leader come into a employee dinner meeting to gauge how things are going, ask one question, then talk at great lengths about nothing relevant to the real issues.  My dad always said you had two ears and one mouth for a reason.  The best leaders are the best listeners.
  3. Be Consistent: Your team should know what they are getting from you every day. They need to be able to trust you whether you are having a good or bad day.  Your decisions and direction should always be fair.  It is also OK to say you do not know the answer on a situation presented to you…while it is always great to respond in a timely manner, consistency is more important.
  4. Focus On Short Term Impact: Setup a 30 day development plan for your direct reports. Work on a 1 week goal sheet for performance.  Work on a quarterly team project.  We sometimes get too wrapped up in the big picture that we lose sight of the short term initiatives that get us to our long term goals.  And praise one person per day for something they did.  An employee never can hear “Thank You” or “You Are Appreciated” enough.
  5. Be Humble: This is a constant theme throughout many of my posts. To become a leader that others will follow, humility is critical.  You have to be confident in your abilities to lead others, but never forget what got you to the point in your career where you are currently at.  Always be willing to do the job your team has to do daily….and not just for an hour or two.   Be Visible and Present in these tasks and your team will recognize this.


We talk a lot about what makes a great leader…I have also seen many people in leadership roles who struggled to lead others.  How to identify a weak leader:

  1. When something goes wrong, the weak manager immediately looks for someone to blame. They instantly say “you need to fix this” instead of “how can we fix this together”.
  2. When an employee makes a suggestion, the weak manager says “You’re wrong” and immediately contradicts the thought. Why does a weak manager react this way? Typically, they are afraid. They are afraid a direct report might have a better idea than they had.  And weak leaders feel they have to be the smartest person in the room.
  3. A weak leader manages through policies, e-mails, spreadsheets and edicts. They don’t listen. They don’t care about building trusting relationships with their teammates — or maybe they’re not capable of doing that.
  4. A weak manager makes it clear that employees serve at his or her pleasure and can be replaced at any time. Employees who feel threatened cannot produce great work.
  5. Weak managers cannot look in the mirror. They cannot admit to having made a mistake and therefore, they cannot learn anything new.  They will constantly tell you what they have done in a previous company or a previous role which many times is not relevant to the current situation.

I have witnessed many great leaders in my career, as well as some people who I felt were poor and selfish in leading others.  I can tell you that I have learned just as much from the weak leaders in what not to do versus the positives from the great leaders.  Creating a positive work environment is a tough task, and is not solely the leader’s to create.  Ask your team what they want their culture to embody and work constantly to make decisions which support these endeavors.  Employees want to feel valued more than ever…if they don’t, they will leave and you will be stuck in the revolving door.  As a child, going around and around in a revolving door is a lot of fun…a revolving door of on-boarding will lead to high levels of frustration and poor performance.