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Holes In Your Boat

 BLOG BY KC ECKELS 11/3/2020

Transition is not a sign of progress when it happens regularly. Most people have come into a situation where they learn that there is a high turnover rate for a role that they just began. In these situations, the hiring manager will often give examples of the few long-term staff remaining in the position and accentuate the positives of the role. This is all fine and well, but if you have a high staff turnover rate the problem is with the leadership rather than the people leaving. Not to say there weren’t one or two “bad apples” in the bunch, but the reality is, high turnover equals holes in your metaphorically boat.


A lot of time a toxic culture starts with the acceptance of a bad act from an otherwise decent employee or manager. If the issue is dismissed or not handled properly that individual will continue behaving in that same manner. I have been faced with this in the past as many others have been.


Scenario: Margot has been with your company for 10 years and overall her performance is stellar. She generates great leads, will work 60 hours a week, come in on nights and weekends to complete tasks and has always been driven to be the best. On paper she is phenomenal. However, over the past ten years you have also had new/newer employees who also hit-the-ground-running and began to perform at a high level but addressed issues with you about Margot. One person said she used abusive language with them and while you knew this should not happen, you dismissed the person addressing the concern because of Margot’s numbers. That person leaves and then another complaint is brought to you by an Admin who felt belittled by Margot. This too was swept-under-the-rug. On and on the cycle continue and you find yourself with a revolving door of staff that left because of the toxic culture.


While I understand that “Margot” is a valued member of your team, she also is creating a situation where others do not wish to stay and that is costly. About twenty years ago I was in this situation. I addressed an issue with the owner of the company because his long-term office manager was an abusive. I (as many others before me) chose to leave after 7 months because excuses were made for her atrocious behavior. About two years later I saw the owner of that company at an event and he apologized for not heeding the warning. He terminated her employment about a year after I had left because the abuse became a daily occurrence but she no longer only abused staff, she began to behave in the same manner with him. This he found to be unacceptable. I left that conversation thinking, “Wow, what a hypocrite. To the revolving door of staff, he would say, “deal with it” but when the abuse turned to him, it was now unacceptable. I have news for anyone sharing this philosophy, it should have been unacceptable the entire time.


Moral: Keep a log of complaints. If (over time) various employees are calling an issue to your attention, please address it. This will not only show the staff that you care, but it also sends a message to the person committing the offenses that there is a zero-tolerance policy for that behavior.

Remember, a revolving door is expensive. Constantly training new employees costs your business valuable time and money and does not look good to customers when they speak to new people every time they call. Also, some of the employees that walk out the door could be the next top sales person, but in not addressing their concerns you are missing out on an opportunity for growth or even ideas that could have generated new revenue. I urge you to fix those holes in your boat, and then bring passengers aboard.  You’ll find you have an increase in employee satisfaction and that leads to additional revenue, because employees work much harder when they are happy.

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