Excessive Turnover (ET) Management

Excessive Turnover (ET) Management

This subject is addressed time and time again. Some retailers have more Store Manager and Assistant Manager positions open than they have filled. Take a look at on-line job sites and you'll see that even large, well known retailers are trying to fill positions that should be filled with candidates from within the company. In fact, if a solid internal promotion policy was in place - one that really worked - the majority of vacancies would be at entry level.

The concern is that this is not just an occasional problem for many retailers and other companies in the service industry. It is an on-going state of affairs. It has become a 'mission critical' item that goes unrecognized as such. C level individuals absolutely must become involved with this epidemic called excessive turnover.

The research is out there. We know it's very expensive to attract and train high caliber employees. Why, then, do so many organizations treat excessive turnover as normal and acceptable? The answer, simply and unfortunately, is lack of awareness.

Often top management is unaware of the root causes of excessive turnover and, as a result, their questions to high level subordinates focus on the activities taking place to attract people to fill vacancies (job fairs, advertisements here, there and everywhere, possibly the use of a professional recruiter, word of mouth, etc.) and those activities are pushed very high on the priority action list. The question to subordinates should be "Why do we have excessive turnover?" and "What is being done to ensure that we keep the good people we already have?" Why not put 'hiring and keeping good people' high on the priority action list? And I mean high...right up there with sales and profit.

When you define 'good people' for your particular business it is highly likely it will include some form of performance or productivity criteria. You don't want to attract and retain nice people, or sweet or happy or kind people. You want to attract and retain people who are 'good' based solely on your particular company's definition of 'good'. Someone else's definition of 'good' just won't cut it.

Why not set up a new department to delve into this area? With all due respect to Human Resources professionals everywhere - and I mean that sincerely - the HR department is not the place to start with this new endeavor. An 'attitude survey' alone won't serve the purpose. An 'open-door policy' won't serve the purpose. Exit interviews won't serve the purpose. You must have objective, sales and customer service oriented individuals looking at operations and asking quality questions in order to figure out what kind of management employees are being subjected to in the organization. Top performers, or producers, usually know what they do and do not like; what inspires and motivates them to perform. Getting them to tell you what those things are is the difficult part.

The main cause of excessive turnover is inadequate management practices. Given the sophisticated society we live in excessive turnover should have been eradicated long ago. ET is bad for your business and bad for employees, as anyone interested in, or struggling with, this subject surely has figured out already.

But why are so few companies dealing with it in a productive manner? The reasons are many. 1) They haven't actually seen the effect on the bottom line; which is not to say it isn't there - it certainly is - but it may not have gotten enough attention to extract the actual dollar figure and attack it as a priority action item. 2) They believe it is an industry related malady and, therefore, believe there is not much they can do. 3) Top management is not asking the right questions. And the list of reasons goes on.

Managers and recruiters spend an inordinate amount of time and energy scurrying around in a never-ending flurry of activity to get new people on board. If we would only spend half as much time and effort focusing on keeping the 'good' people we already have we would be able to climb off of the hamster wheel and become far more productive.

It takes great managers to manage and develop people for maximum effectiveness.

Among other things, great managers are consistent; are credible; promote stability; communicate well and often:

Consistency - It is difficult to follow a leader who is inconsistent. They may be seen unpredictable and/or wishy-washy.

Credibility - It is impossible to respect a leader who has no credibility. They can be seen as untrustworthy and insincere.

Stability - It is uncomfortable to work for a leader who does not create stability in the workplace and may even appear to promote instability and insecurity.

Communication - It is difficult to follow a leader who cannot, or does not, communicate well. They are often misunderstood and believed to be lacking clarity of vision and/or direction.

ET can be abolished by following some innovative as well as some solid, tried and true management/people development practices. You need to know what those practices are and how to implement them successfully within your organization. Understanding what your good people need from you is the first, and crucial, step. Your great managers have to do the rest.

DMS Retail offers an insightful guide to people management as it relates to the eradication of ET. For further information go

Excessive Turnover (ET) Management

Excessive Turnover (ET) Management

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