We have all heard the famous line from the movie A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson tells Tom Cruise, “Truth…You can’t handle the truth!” The question is; can you as a leader handle the truth. Unfortunately, as an employee retention speaker and employee retention consultant, I often see leaders of organizations that can’t handle the truth. When it comes to employee retention strategies, one of the key areas is that they need to get rid of one of their top supervisors because the supervisor is great technically but a disaster when it comes to how they handle people. Usually, these supervisors can get great short-term results but there is not the ability to sustain them over the long haul because people will quit rather than work for them.
It does take a leap of faith and a shift in a senior leader’s attitude in order to be able to realize that you might have to get rid of someone you consider a key player because they get production and quality for you. They may also leave a trail of bodies in their wake. Supervisors like that will not be viable with the looming labor shortage that is taking hold and that will not disappear for at least a decade. Soon, senior leaders are going to be faced with the prospect of getting rid of someone they see as good technically but who simply can’t lead people.
Another area where the truth is difficult to take is that they themselves are autocratic in their approach so their own direct reports are afraid to say anything to them. Unless they join a peer group of executives who are people centric in their approach there is the strong likelihood they unconsciously or even consciously encourage a supervisor like the one described earlier. This can be deadly because you will see profits in the short-term but with the looming labor shortage, organizations led like this won’t be able to find the people they need to staff their organization. At that point, they may change but the change may not be quick enough.
If you are a senior leader and reading this, it is my hope that this blog makes your squirm a bit if it is describing you. There may just be time for you to turn it around so that the employee retention crisis you will face doesn’t negatively impact your business. The question to ask yourself is, “Can you handle the truth?”