“I’m thinking about quitting”
I often engage with front line staff members before putting together any sort of training plan, to assess and understand what existing culture and communication style really is.
I talk to that staff, in confidence to help understand how they operate and whether any training would benefit them.
And this team had THREE members who had polished up their resumes. They just didn't say anything, because they don't naturally communicate that way.
Not that the company was in any way “dysfunctional”. They just didn’t know that these people were suffering silently and didn't have the internal tools to uncover and defuse this bomb.
Founders, owners and managers are all aware that staff turnover is the biggest hidden cost in any business. Losing staff can cost up to 33% of their annual salary. (In Seattle where the median income is in the $100,000 mark, that adds up.)
Now calculate the costs of someone who hasn’t yet quit but is thinking about it:
-Are they doing their job to the fullest expectations?
-Are they going to get along with other team members and contribute to THEIR success?
-Are they going to be presenting the company’s best to prospects and clients?
-Will they be growing and building everything the company has been working toward and claims to be it’s strength?
What does THAT all cost a company?
Statistics bear out some damning numbers:
- US employees spend almost 3 hours per WEEK dealing with conflict.
- That translates to more than $300 BILLION dollars in paid hours.
- Managers spend more than 25% of their day managing conflict.
This is not unavoidable.
My example company worked to not only understand how their staff learns and communicates but also gave everyone tools and space to have their voices heard. They stepped out of conflict (and conflict avoidance) and made it ok to have open conversations.
Sales improved. “Culture” became something more tangible. Staff retention became the norm.
I hear so many executives and leaders talk about “culture”. Often it’s a lot less tangible to them than say, an accounting report or marketing campaign.
So what can a company do to avoid these failures?
- Engage with psychometric assessments. Make clear to (yourself) and your team that you want to know more about who everyone is, how they communicate and where their strengths and weaknesses (opportunities) are. We have a battery of independent assessments we use to help craft conversations and work to build the best solutions based on who is making up each unique team.
- Encourage openness and vulnerability, from the top to the bottom. Once someone (for example) who is comfortable with chaos realizes they might be upsetting someone who values stability, they can move to open acknowledgement. Everyone is different so knowing conflict may crop up is a great way to talk about it and defuse it.
- Talk to an outside expert. Most successful companies are succeeding because they have their heads down and are focused on selling their product/service. It can take an outside observer to point out spots that can shine light on the dark areas of a company culture.
In the end, nobody quit. The team acquired a language they could use that was inclusive of every single person and empowered even the most introverted with the tools to let their voices be heard. They continue to hire people that stick into that culture and not just hope someone will work out.