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EMPLOYEE DEPARTURE good -- bad and why?

You may have the technology, product service and even the perfect location but ultimately your organization is powered by people.

Employee Turnover can be healthy for an organization but at times when or why someone leaves the organization can be a very clear symptom that your organization requires attention and perhaps an attitude adjustment.

For example, I received the following e-mail … the news was devastating and shocking to me but not unexpected.

Hello Guys,

Just to let you know… I’m quitting January 29th. I have a new job waiting for me on the first of February. Thank you for the 5 great years of a nice relationship, full of stories, help and listening. I will send you my new coordinates so I can keep up at least with your weekly thoughts.


What made this devastating is that this person had a senior role in the organization and literally had become part of the brand. Now the organization had an immediate need to back-fill this position but also and likely for months to come work on brand management.

I was devastated but perhaps the employer was/is not too traumatized. So let me explain why I was devastated and perhaps the company was not …

So Why did this employee Leave ???

Employee turnover is natural and actually healthy for all organizations. For many of my past employers we wanted at least a 5% turnover just so we could bring onboard new personalities that would challenge us and our processes while making sure tribal knowledge was being transferred. But we looked for natural turnover … retirements, students returning to school but we closely looked at our unconventional departures and why?

Attitude is paramount to organizational success and how you adjust attitude is critical. I know that people really under-estimate how their work environment impacts attitude … here is a simple, example… an employee arrives to work and preps for his shift by sitting in the lunchroom … that is tucked away in the back using old tables and a miss-match of chairs … in general. A mess with people’s lunch container scattered on table to represent their stake Of ownership … the bad attitude starts … then the employee goes to the washroom … again a mess , paper towels on the floor, messy Sink broken soap dispenser and most likely a cracked mirror .. A Stronger bad attitude and a question to themselves if they really are Valued … shift starts and they enter their work area to find it in their mind dis-organized … where was management they wonder? Again, what you have already a slam of negative attitude … what kind of professional work do You think they will perform and how concerned are they about Quality? … ultimately how confident would you be in purchasing From this company … compared to …

Employee Departure

The employee arrives at work to his designated parking space where he is expected to back-in when parking. He enters and proceeds to the lunch area which is clean and uncluttered he places his lunch in a designated location on a shelf and relaxes with a newspaper that is in its designated storage location. The are is neat, orderly and clean and is being monitored by a peer who has been assigned for the week to insure compliance with gentle coaching … including reminding people to tuck in their chair after use.

They proceed to dress in their clean company dress (lab coat or coveralls) before proceeding to their work area which is well lit, organized due to 5S. Proper signage is throughout the facility to provide reminders and direction … the employee then verifies that everything is in order by conducting his start of shift TPM checks … satisfied he is ready to work.

His attitude? Better than the other person and this positive attitude will be transferred through his work performance and ultimately reflected in the product he produces …

Worse ??? .. Compare the scenarios if it they were in a hospital where you are scheduled for open heart surgery … which would you chose? Yet why do companies avoid investing in their professionals by providing a professional environment.

But when unconventional departures happen, they do require investigation and true root cause analysis. PEOPLE LEAVE LEADERS NOT ORGANIZATIONS !!!

HR may respond that the employee left because they were offered more money (only in a few cases is this the motivation) … They were offered a better position . (perhaps but did they offer to expand authority and responsibility?) or a plethora of other reasons but failing to answer the key question?

This employee’s emotional attachment to the organization had been broken which then made them vulnerable to exploring other opportunities. I was recruited often … but if I was in my “happy” state I did not pursue a proposed opportunity.

So the real question is how and why did this employee lose their emotional attachment with the organization?

I encourage people to look at all of their employees and their roles to identify a balance within there roles of being either The Student or The Teacher.

If they are constantly The Student, they are most likely not adding value and are a burden to the organization while if they are constantly The Teacher they will become tired, frustrated and most likely both bored and crusty … especially if they have a low tolerance of incompetence.

As a leader it is very important that your employees have balanced Student/Teacher roles when employed within your organization.

Money is a low and short-term motivator and if this is the reason given my experience is that you are paying a ransom and the employee will still most likely leave within a year unless you do more … so if you succumb to this request just accept it as an extended notice of departure from the employee.

Keeping employees is a challenge … keeping them happy and emotionally engaged sometimes is just the result of taking time acknowledge them and trust them as adults to engage and make decisions … you just need to establish the foul lines or your “true North”!



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