High Turnover
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Put a Stop to High Turnover

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: We always seem to be filling the same position. How can we stop this trend?

A: This is frustrating but not unusual. You probably have a supervisor who is not using good management techniques. There are several things you can do to stop this cycle from repeating.

Conduct exit interviews to find out why people are leaving. Some employers don’t put much faith in exit interviews, but if they’re conducted by someone who wasn’t the departing employee’s manager (such as the HR manager), you can usually get some good information. The first thing to explore is whether the person left for reasons out of your control (say, to return to school or because a spouse was relocated for a job) or because the person wasn’t being managed well or felt his or her career goals weren’t being supported.

You’ve probably heard the axiom, “People don’t leave organizations—they leave managers.” I strongly agree, so look for trends in exit interview data that may show that you have a manager issue. If a specific manager has a lot of turnover, it’s time for action that might include counseling or performance coaching or training. It also may be time to replace that manager if he or she doesn’t respond to your efforts to help the person improve performance.

You’ve probably heard the axiom, “People don’t leave organizations—they leave managers.” I strongly agree.

Have well-written job descriptions that clearly outline expectations so that everyone, including the manager and the next person to take the job, understands the responsibilities of the position and how success will be measured.

Develop interview questions using what you learned from the first two steps. Thoughtful, focused interview questions will help you ascertain whether a prospective candidate has the skills, knowledge, ability, and attitude needed to succeed in the position.

Examine your onboarding processes to ensure that your new hire has every opportunity to succeed. This is important for everyone you hire, but it’s especially critical when you hire a person to fill a job that has been open many times before.

Do a “lessons learned” session after you know you’ve made a good hire. Involve everyone who was part of process to look at what went well and what didn’t go well, so you can make improvements where needed and build on your recruiting success.

Hiring mistakes can be costly, both in dollars and in time. They also can have a huge impact on current employees, who will pick up the slack when the new hire doesn’t perform well, so do your best to make as few of them as possible. These steps should help you stop a recurring pattern of turnover in the same position.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

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