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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

Reducing Turnover with Your Leaders

I believe most organizations really want to reduce turnover in their labor force, but especially in the leader ranks. Turnover is expensive to your margins and the amount of institutional knowledge that walks out the door is almost priceless. Only the most elite level organizations with excellent leadership and executive development schools and programs are the ones who have minimal effects when a leader exits, and I could probably count those on one hand!

Regardless of what some might suggest, it's not money, title, position, or other external incentives you can offer them to retain them over the long haul. The one thing you can do is to be genuinely interested in them as people. I know this sounds simple but think about it for a moment. What is the #1 key to team member satisfaction? It's not the paycheck, although it is way up there. It's a healthy work environment to which they feel connected and effective. If a person doesn't feel appreciated or doesn't feel you are interested in them, they are not likely to stick around, no matter how much incentive is present. At some point, the money becomes meaningless as the way they feel at work begins to have more and more meaning. And when does it have more meaning? When it carries with it a bad emotion day after day.

Let's also examine the flip side. As long as your leaders know you are genuinely interested in them, not only what they do or produce, although that is important as well, they will follow you anywhere. I am reminded of all the legitimately tough sports coaches over the decades who almost everyone would say they were hard to play for. Yet, when players are interviewed years later, they talk about that coach in glowing terms of admiration and admit although they had high expectations, every player would say they knew that hard coach cared for and loved them as people. You'll find that taking a genuine interest in your leaders helps you retain them more effectively than anything else.

Historically, the best generals, political figures and other leaders displayed this wisdom as they built teams of people willing to give up their very lives for what they were asked to do. Why were their teams this loyal? It wasn't simply because of the cause they fought for, but also because they knew their leader believed in them and had actual, personal interest in them.

Here's a question: How do you demonstrate genuine, personal interest in your team? Every turnover in your organization costs you some market share, leadership equity, onboarding costs, time, energy, money, and other resources. It's in your interest to retain leaders, and you do that in one way, being personally interested in them as human beings. Now, just one asterisk at the end, this is not the ONLY thing. This is not an OR, it's an AND. They need to generate the appropriate results for their seat on the bus and the other accountabilities they have on their plate AND you need to lead with a genuine interest in them as people.

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