2 Steps to Keep People from Quitting

Do you know the number one reason why people quit a job? It’s not for more money or better benefits or advancement opportunities. People may cite these factors as a reason for leaving in an exit interview or casual conversation, but what most likely led them to look elsewhere in the first place is because of a bad boss. As a Harvard Business Review article stated, “Studies have consistently shown that having a bad manager or a poor relationship with one’s manager is a top reason an employee quits.”

Yep, most likely your number one reason for turnover is bad leadership, especially at the frontline level. And how much does turnover cost? Most studies report between 150-300% of the person’s annual salary depending on the position. Ouch.

However, in the same Harvard Business Review article, only 12% of survey respondents said they currently invest sufficiently in the development of frontline managers.

So one of the best ways to nip a turnover issue in the bud and to potentially gain a competitive advantage over competitors is to fix your leadership issues, with the greatest bang for your buck being at the frontline level. Here are two steps to do just that:

1. Identify, assess and select frontline leadership talent based on skills needed to effectively lead and develop others, not skills needed to perform successfully in the doer role. The classic Peter Principle states the people are often promoted to their level of incompetence. Most frontline leaders are promoted to a supervisory role because they are good at the doer role, not because they are equipped with the skills to be effective leading others.

Whether you are hiring someone externally or promoting from within, you need to assess both the leadership potential of the person (skill) as well as the desire to be in a leadership role (will). As Kris Dunn said in one of his all-to truthful and to-the-point performance management posts at HR Capitalist, “That makes hiring people (leaders) – who are comfortable with the gray and understand the value of taking many small actions towards a goal with no guarantee of success – one of the most important things you can do today.” Find out if the person can lead others in a gray world and if he/she actually wants to.

If you want some tips on what dimensions you need assess potential leadership talent for, give us a shout out and we can help. Kris Dunn’s post just cited has some food for thought on this, and entrepreur.com has a good post here to get you started in thinking about key traits to evaluate:http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245394


2. Teach frontline leaders the skills they need to be effective in a management role. We often promote people to their level of incompetence because we throw them to the wolves as a new leader and expect them to come out alive.   What often happens is we make no investment in cultivating the new skills needed be effective at our organization and then are surprised when they fail.

Doing this before someone is even promoted and/or hired into the role is imperative. For example, we have a company we love working with that calls us to come and do one-on-one leadership coaching/training with anyone before they are promoted into a supervisory role. You can’t be promoted without this step in the process.

Developing and deploying a leadership development training plan at an individual and company level in order to effectively transition people from doer to leader then ensure people maintain and grow in effective leadership skills is an ongoing effort. Development plans are also a great way to facilitate succession planning and foster employee engagement.

If you want more tips on strategies for putting together effective development plans, you might like these posts:

3 Steps to Better Leadership  

Get a Leadership Development Game Plan

What has been your number one strategy to keep people from quitting? Does it involve leadership development?

Mary Ila Ward

Leave Comment :