Coaching and Mentoring : Who stole my key talent ? Reducing Turnover: Maybe it isn’t what you are doing, but what you aren’t

Greg Langston is the President of The Langston Group, The Langston Group offers tools for executives, professionals and coaches at The Langston Group also offers a comprehensive 100 Day Leadership and Success system called the Integrated Helix System™. The Integrated Helix System™ helps individuals discover their unique strengths (Distinct Natural Abilities™), core values, and lifetime goals, all with a focus on maximizing potential and work-life balance.

As soon as one of your best employees walks in, you know what is going to happen. The look on his face says it all. “I am leaving.” How did this happen ? Did you miss something ?

What are the reasons that employees leave ? You don’t have to look very hard to find answers to that one. This seems to be one of the favorite things for human resource researchers to research. And research they have.

Unfortunately, “leaving” gets too much attention. Retention is the focus that will keep you and your employees happy. Remember, if you aren’t actively recruiting your employees, someone else will—and someone is probably recruiting your best and brightest right now.

The case for focusing on retention

Every year, businesses face the costs of replacing their key employees at up to 2.5 times the former employee’s salary. Add the costs of recruiting, training, lost productivity, and the business knowledge that your former employees have now taken to your competitors and the figure looms even higher.

And it gets worse.

The hidden costs of turnover

The costs of turnover are usually only seen in basic terms: downtime, recruiting a replacement, and training the new-hire. That’s a lot like making a grocery list with “food, drink, and health products.” You leave the store wondering why these three items cost so much.

When you are shopping for a new employee, here is a real shopping list :

  • Last paycheck
  • Leftover vacation hours
  • Processing the paperwork for separation
  • Advertising
  • Meetings
  • Interviews
  • Background checks
  • Medical check-ups
  • Reading through resumes
  • Training materials
  • Lost productivity until position is filled
  • Learning curve down-time

And you haven’t even picked up the milk and bread yet !

What’s the solution ?

Data can’t do anything by itself, and sometimes data can even be misleading. Remember that voluntary turnover data is often gathered from somebody who has already decided to leave. Couple that fact with the adage “don’t burn your bridges”, and you can quickly see why one of the top reasons given for voluntary turnover is “better pay elsewhere.” In other words, nothing personal, Boss.

It is personal !

It is not that people never leave their jobs for a better paying job, but the reason you have lost, are losing, and will lose key talent is probably not related to money. People leave when they are no longer happy.

Don’t simply focus on the employees on their way out the door. Let’s look at the ones who are staying and how to turn the employees planning to leave into key talent planning to stay.

How to slay the turnover dragon - 5 Key Retention Factors

If something were stolen from your office—say, a computer—you would probably stop at nothing to find the culprit. Why then do most companies treat the “theft” of an employee as part of the normal course of business ? You invest a great deal in each of your employees, so how can you protect that investment ?

Research shows that when a company addresses the following 5 areas, employees are far more likely to stay.

One: Trust in management

Before you can ask your employees to trust you, you have to determine exactly what your company is all about. How can an employee trust management if he/she doesn’t even know what management stands for ?

Determine your Mission, Values, and Objectives—your MVO statement. There are numerous resources to help you craft your mission, values, and objectives if you have not done so already.

If you have already crafted them, it might not hurt to take a second look. Ask yourself the following questions about each element of your MVO statement :

  • Is this measurable ?
  • Does each element provide value ?
  • Can I explain what it means ?
  • Are our decisions actively based on our MVO ?

Once you have determined your company’s mission, values, and objectives, you need to measure your employee’s alignment with them. This can impart a whole new level of responsibility and accountability in your company. By measuring the performance of your employees with the company’s mission, values, and objectives, you can completely align your company.

By incorporating your MVO into your review process, you get an additional benefit—your employees will truly know the company’s MVO.

Two: Proper use of skills/abilities

This is one of the most fundamental issues in employee retention: are their duties and responsibilities properly matched to their strengths and weaknesses ?

There are many powerful diagnostic systems on the market today—Myers-Briggs and DISC, for example—that can aid you in determining the unique abilities and personality traits of your employees. Many companies have had great success using the Kolbe Index™ ( found at ), which provides a scientifically validated assessment of your instincts that you can put to work immediately in all areas of life. The value of the Kolbe assessment is that you get precise data that outlines how your employees can communicate most effectively, the types of actions that match their strengths, how they can maximize their unique abilities, and how to minimize stress.

Why should you help your employees discover their MVO and their unique strengths ? Productivity is maximized through alignment of your employees to their MVO and their unique strengths. This will ensure that your employees are engaged, plus they will feel appreciated and valued.

Three: Relationship with immediate supervisor

Would you rather work for the worst manager in the best company or the best manager in the worst company ? Given this choice, just about everybody would choose the better manager over the better company. Turns out, unhappy employees are usually unhappy because of a poor employee/supervisor relationship.

The keys to solving employee / supervisor issues :

  • Discovery: Integrate the discovery of your employees’ strengths, values, and goals into your orientation and review programs.
  • Measure your employees’ alignment with their strengths, values, and goals: Make measuring your employees’ alignment with their strengths, values, and goals part of their review process. This will help you find a way for everyone to benefit. If one of your employees had a goal to increase her sales by 25%, you could make sure that receives additional support from the company.
  • Measure the alignment of employee/supervisor and supervisor/employee: Employees usually don’t leave jobs—they leave supervisors. By measuring the alignment between your employees and their supervisors, you can find the earliest signals of turnover. If you were to only measure the perception of management, you probably wouldn’t hear that the employees don’t think things are going well with certain managers. On a positive note, measuring alignment gives you another avenue of praise and recognition of a job well done. Above all, by addressing alignment, you are improving communication throughout the company.

In the traditional orientation and review model, you might not discover the problems with your employees and supervisors until it is too late—when key employees start leaving. By incorporating alignment into your model, you can easily see who to promote, who to train, who to praise, what to fix, and who to fire.

Four: Opportunity to learn new skills

If your company has taken the time to discover the unique strengths of the employees, then this retention factor is even easier for you. When you know the strengths of your employees, you are in a much better position to match your need for new skills in the company with employees who are most suited to those skills. This is a win-win for everyone—your company gains new skill sets, and employees are matched to their strengths.

The most important aspect of this is not simply the opportunity to learn new skills; it is to learn new skills that are matched to their strengths. When you need to train ten people in your company in the latest research methods, it would certainly help to know who your ten best researchers are.

Five: Satisfaction with potential career development

We return again to discovering the MVO of your employees. If you know the mission, values, and objectives of your employees, you are in a much better position to determine the best way to match your company’s MVO to your employees’ MVO.

It all comes down to knowledge. If you take the time to discover who your employees are and what they want, there will be no mystery surrounding career development. Most people have never taken the time to determine their personal MVO.

By helping them do this, you achieve success on several levels :

  1. They will feel like the company really cares about them.
  2. They will know where they want their careers to go.
  3. You will know how to truly maximize each employee’s potential.

Bringing it all together

These solutions shouldn’t be done piecemeal. Having a mission and values statement is meaningless if no action is taken. Measuring the alignment of your employees to the company’s MVO is moot if your employees don’t truly know the company’s MVO. Without discovering the unique strengths, goals, and values of your employees, you will miss out on your untapped resources.

Are there other turnover issues ? Of course there are, but when you address the unique strengths and MVO of your employees and focus on alignment throughout the company, many other turnover issues are solved without even trying:

  • The need for new challenges: You will help them determine their MVO.
  • Personal happiness: You will show them that the company truly cares about them.
  • Satisfaction with job role: They will be matched to their strengths.
  • Teamwork: Alignment will become a key focus throughout the company.
  • Communication: By implementing MVO alignment across the board, you will experience a level of communication most companies only dream about.

By discovering the Distinct Natural Abilities™ of your employees and aligning their MVO with the company’s MVO, you will build a stable, low-turnover culture that maximizes everyone’s potential.

© Copyright 2006 - The Langston Group Inc

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