As a retention speaker and retention trainer, all too often I work with organizations that have pretty solid employee retention across the organization. Then, you look at one department, on one shift and it’s a revolving door. Everything else the organization has in place from an employee retention strategies perspective is the same except for one variable…the department leader. Now, I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack, but my deductive capability tells me that something about the department leader must be causing the turnover. That’s where the solution becomes more difficult.
That’s when you have to dig into what exit interviews, stay interviews, engagement studies, 360’s and other data are saying. That data, combined with your observations will usually tell you what the issue is with the department leader. This employee retention consultant believes that most leaders want to do a good job. There are exceptions to the rule, but not as many as you would think. Then the key is to do some diagnostic work and sit down with the leader to solve the problem because, given the current climate where people are the most important constraint for business, you must deal with it. That combined with the fact that most department leaders do have some qualities that make them worth keeping.
When you have narrowed down what you believe the problem to be, you need to present the facts to the department leader and explain that certain changes must take place. This isn’t an optional conversation. They must understand that with employee retention such a critical issue, they have to make changes or they will be removed. It needs to be an open and candid conversation supported by facts. It needs to be a problem-solving discussion because the last thing you want is for the problem to continue as well as the fact that you don’t want to be changing out your department leaders. My experience is, that if done correctly, most department leaders take it to heart.
When you approach a department leader in this way and it works and employees see the positive result, the employees’ respect for the organization increases and the problem of employee retention is addressed. This building of respect helps to build the type of culture that you want as part of your employee retention strategies. Anyone can simply fire a department leader who is problematic. That works but it’s rarely the optimal solution.