“I was the fifth person in 26 months in that position”


One of my friends said this to me recently. The average tenure was less than five months. The consequences were consistent each time. The new person had to be retrained, go through a “get up to speed” period, a short time of actual productivity and then the person would leave.  If you factor in the time it took to recruit a new person the actual productive time on the job was minimal. A common mindset is “the next person we hire will fix the problem”.

My friend told me his view of the job was much like his predecessors – the job was too much. The organization knew what the problem was. There are several potential solutions which include but are not limited to:

  1. Split the job
  2. Have an assistant or part time assistant
  3. Dole out some of the responsibilities to other people
  4. Review contracting out some job duties to third parties

I don’t know if these would be relevant or not for that situation. However, I see organizations do this constantly. They are not facing the root cause. In many cases, the root issue is known and accepted as being true. However, little to nothing is done and there is no reason to believe their turnover will get any better. This is a perfect example of fundamental management being able to eliminate the root cause. In most of the solutions above, the cost of the solution would be very little compared to the cost of the turnover.

We had a job which the root cause went a little deeper. This job was also too much. However, the real problem was certain deadlines within the job which overlapped and the employee could not get everything done during that short period each month. Outside of the deadline period, the job responsibilities were achievable. We reviewed the job during the deadline period and realized the employee needed some low level clerical assistance for a matter of a few days a month.

Employee turnover is insidious - it tries to convince you it will fix itself. When the reality is, it can be fixed with the right strategies, systems and processes.

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