Leadership and Unplanned Turnover.
By: Dr. Rick Johnson.
Friday, 5th September 2008
People, who get results, have low turnover and above average retention rates - They are high impact leaders.

They are consistent, explicit and concise and they command a presence when they walk into a room. They have enough charisma to turn the dullest moment into a high-energy event. When they move on, others want to go with them. Their openness and honesty creates a legacy which people admire and look up to. They gain commitment and foster trust. Employees are eager to release their personal discretionary energy to get the job done.

Creating change, managing in turbulent times or fostering rapid growth all depends on a balance of this type of leadership. No one person can make a company successful. It takes a lot of people but one person with a command of leadership can transfer enough influence to create effective leadership throughout the organization to guarantee success.

Unplanned Turnover

Unplanned turn-over can create quite a challenge to leadership.  It can throw a wrench into the most well thought out plans. It is also very costly. As a result, it has been on the forefront of industry discussion for the past several years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people who quit jobs (instead of being fired, laid off or downsized) accounts for 42-63% of all people who leave their job in a given year.

Leaders must make emotional connections with the management team that surrounds them. They must encourage these people to open up, share dialog and reveal dreams. They must teach and mentor.  Leveraging their leadership entails advancing their personal agenda by advancing the agenda of others. This is the only way to significantly impact unplanned turnover.

A good leader is not intimidated by the success of others. They encourage others to succeed and help them fulfill their wants and needs. Leveraging leadership helps determine the hidden factors in communication. Understanding inferences and assertions become a key component to understanding people. Leaders have high questioning and prospering skills that allow them to drill down to real facts and issues. Moe importantly, they act on resolving those issues that are uncovered.

Leveraging their leadership allows successful leaders to establish emotional connections, which diminish fear and intimidation. This encourages enthusiasm and cooperation. This is true even in an exit interview; unless of course, the interviewee is leaving because his manager is a jerk. If that's the case, having an HR person in every interview should allow you to uncover that fact as well.

Learn from the Exit Interview

Some leaders are content to glance over an internal exit interview and conclude that the valued talent is walking out the door because other companies are offering better salaries or benefits packages or because someone else offered them a chance to advance or do something different; when in fact, research paints quite a different picture.

This means that the person doing the exit interview must be skilled at the process. The Gallup organization reports that 75% of the time the reason a person left employment was directly influenced by their supervisor. Other studies indicate similar statistics reporting reasons for leaving as:

1. Job or workplace did not meet expectations
2. Job wasn't what was expected or described
3. Not enough coaching and training
4. No idea of career path or advancement
5. Feeling devalued and unrecognized
6. Lack of trust and respect in leadership

Often people are reluctant to point to the immediate supervisor (boss) as the reason for leaving a job even if that is the primary reason. This makes it important that the session is conducted by a skilled interviewer. Common supervisor issues include the supervisor not being able to adequately communicate expectations or goals. It might be due to the supervisor's lack of leadership skills. This may point to the failure of the immediate supervisor to really listen; but it could also reflect an unwillingness of senior management to make resources and opportunities available.

Fact:  Sometimes an employee's performance is directly proportional to his supervisor's competence and leadership skills.

Learn to Listen

Successful leaders take the time to listen, imagine and investigate numerous alternatives. With the involvement of people they forge creative solutions to difficult problems. They challenge their people to stretch, go beyond their previous boundaries and think outside the box.  Successful leaders feed off their people and allow their people to feed off of them. They give credit where credit is due. They give recognition as a means of gaining respect. They believe individuals can make a difference. Through these methods they learn to create new insights and possibilities. This kind of attitude gains trust and respect on the part of the employee.

 Create a Sense of Urgency

Successful leadership means creating a sense of urgency, getting mutual commitment to action. Action steps are always clearly defined and precise. Often, due to the personification of the leader's own personality and charisma, employees are eager to leap into action – without forethought. A successful leader recognizes this possibility and takes the necessary steps to avoid this pitfall by teaching precision in planning. They are clear and explicit. They communicate with encouraging clarity that commands ownership by everyone involved in the commitments made. Unplanned turnover is rarely a problem.

The successful leader is constantly building advantages into the organizations. The belief is that you don't always have to be better than your competition but you must be different. This concept demands creativity and innovations. However, this creativity and innovation must be built into the strategic plan. It must be distinctive and yet it must be manageable and predictable. This could involve anything from new technologies to market segmentation to development of new channels. It is all about improvement and finding newer and better ways of doing things.

Prepare the New Hires

A huge percentage of new hires will jump ship within 18 months if they sense the company is not committed to its employees. They will jump if the company does not accept them into the fold properly by offering initial orientation, subsequent training and a culture that treats the employee as the company's most precious assets.

The question is not, "Can you afford to invest in this soft touchy-feely Human Resource stuff?" The question becomes, "Can you afford to not invest in your most important asset, your employees?"

A bias that exists in many companies almost as though admitting that employees are the most precious of corporate assets will lead to an anarchy on which owners and managers will fall at the mercy of the workforce. Well, shake your head in disbelief if you want to, but the reality of the situation is that you are at the mercy of your workforce. The rules have to continue to change. If you aren't willing to admit that and get your head in the game then you won't survive in the new millennium and unplanned turnover will guarantee your inability to maximize success.

"People are not profits but without people there are no profits."

Check out CEO Strategists Learning to Lead So Others Will Follow Planning Workbook and CD set.

www.ceostrategist.com  – Sign up to receive "The Howl" a free monthly newsletter that addresses real world industry issues. – Straight talk about today's issues. Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com.
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