Saturday, November 21, 2009

Five Ways to Lose Your Best Employees

Oh dear!  You went ahead and ignored my advice, and managed to hire some outstanding employees.  Don't worry:  all is not lost.  Just follow this simple plan, and you can be sure that, sooner rather than later, your best employees will run screaming toward the exits, on their way to working for your competitors.
  1. Keep poor performers around until they quit, retire, or die. Remember, the goal here is to get rid of your strong performers -- the ones carrying the load when your poor performers are yakking on the phone or leaving at 2pm for their fourteenth "doctor's appointment" this month. Leverage the time-tested power of low morale by keeping around a few folks who burden the rest of the team with their total lack of pride in their work. Soon enough, your most productive employees will look for a workplace at which they don't spend all day resenting their Wallyesque colleagues.

  2. What is this "training budget" of which you speak? Here's where you'll be glad you've turned to me, your employee alienation mentor, because managers get this one wrong all the time. You may think that providing training for your employee simply sets her up to take a better, higher-paying job somewhere else, and thus, you want to train the heck out of those good employees. But nay! It turns out that strong performers want to learn and grow in their jobs, and want their employers to give them opportunities to follow a career path within their company. Who would've guessed? Deny them training, and they will soon make their way to a company that demonstrates its interest in keeping them by giving them the tools they need to meet their career goals.

  3. Take credit for their work. When you're in a staff meeting with the CEO, she has no idea who on your team was really responsible for the recent success (why on Earth would you ever give her that information?). Why not take the credit? Besides, surely it was your inspired leadership that drove the hard work of your talented and dedicated employees, thus producing the desired results. Surprisingly effective, this technique will ensure that your staff will look for an employer who enables, rather than blocks, the progress of their careers.

  4. Practice NIHYYSOB management. NIHYYSOB, a concept introduced in the classic book(let), The One-Minute Manager, means giving your employees no feedback at all, until they do something wrong. The moment you spot a mistake, you zap them for their error, and, like a Moray eel, slink back to your hole to await the next victim. Your employee will quickly learn that the only way to get your attention is to fail, and will therefore begin the search for a company at which he might occasionally be recognized for what he does right. (I am indebted to John Romine of UC Irvine for reminding me of this one.)

  5. Ignore them altogether. On the other hand, NIHYYSOB does require a bit of effort on your part. Why not simply provide no feedback, no direction, and no leadership whatsoever? Don't believe this technique is common? Think about your team. How often do you meet with your direct reports, much less the other members of the team, on a one-on-one basis? And when you do, are you talking about the employee's progress towards her career goals, or just reviewing the status of whatever project she is working on? And how often do you bring the whole team together, and when you do, what sort of feedback do you offer them? The beauty of this technique is that it is so simple, you may be practicing it right now without even realizing it!
There's an old saying that suggests that an employee joins a company for the job, salary, location, and benefits, but leaves because of their boss. You can be that boss!  Believe me, in addition to the handful of modest suggestions above, there are sooooo many other ways to get those pesky, demanding, expensive, and talented employees to go somewhere else. 

And, once they leave, your loyalty and dedication will certainly be all the more apparent... won't it?

No comments: