Real Estate

Excessive Turnover Management (ET)

This topic is brought up time and time again. Some retailers have more open store manager and assistant manager positions than they have filled. Take a look at online job sites and you’ll see that even big, well-known retailers are trying to fill positions that should be filled with in-house candidates. In fact, if there were a strong internal promotion policy in place, that actually worked, most of the openings would be entry level.

The concern is that this is not just an occasional problem for many retailers and other businesses in the service industry. It is an ongoing state of affairs. It has become a “mission critical” item that is not recognized as such. C-level people absolutely need to get involved with this epidemic called excessive turnover.

The research is there. We know that it is very expensive to attract and train high caliber employees. Why, then, do so many organizations treat excess turnover as normal and acceptable? The answer, simply and unfortunately, is a lack of awareness.

Often, top management is unaware of the root causes of excessive turnover, and as a result, their questions to higher-level subordinates focus on activities that are carried out to attract people to fill vacancies (job fairs, advertisements). here, there and everywhere, possibly the use of a professional recruiter, word of mouth, etc.) and those activities are very high on the list of priority actions. The question to subordinates should be “Why do we have excessive turnover?” and “What is being done to ensure that we keep the good people we already have?” Why not put ‘hiring and keeping good people’ high on the priority action list? And I mean high… right up there with sales and profits.

When you define ‘good people’ for your particular business, chances are good that you include some form of performance or productivity criteria. You don’t want to attract and retain nice, sweet, happy, or kind people. You want to attract and retain people who are ‘good’ based solely on your particular company’s definition of ‘good’. Someone else’s definition of “good” just doesn’t cut it.

Why not create a new department to delve into this area? With all due respect to HR professionals around the world, and I mean this sincerely, the HR department is not the place to start this new endeavor. An ‘attitude survey’ by itself will not serve the purpose. An ‘open door policy’ will not serve the purpose. Exit interviews will not serve the purpose. You need to have objective, sales and customer service oriented people analyzing operations and asking quality questions to determine what type of management employees in the organization are subject to. The best artists, or producers, usually know what they’re doing and what they don’t like; what inspires and motivates them to act. Getting them to tell you what those things are is the hard part.

The main cause of excessive turnover is poor management practices. Given the sophisticated society we live in, excessive turnover should have been eradicated long ago. ET is bad for your business and bad for employees, as anyone interested in, or struggling with, this topic will surely have figured it out by now.

But why are so few companies tackling it productively? The reasons are many. 1) They haven’t actually seen the effect on the bottom line; Which is not to say it’s not there, it certainly is, but it may not have gotten enough attention to extract the actual dollar figure and attack it as a priority action item. 2) They think it’s an industry related disease and therefore think there’s not much they can do. 3) Senior management is not asking the right questions. And the list of reasons goes on.

Managers and recruiters spend an inordinate amount of time and energy running through an endless whirlwind of activity to attract new people. If we spent half the time and effort concentrating on keeping the “good” people we already have, we would be able to get out of the hamster wheel and become much more productive.

Great managers are needed to manage and develop people for maximum effectiveness.

Among other things, great managers are consistent; they are credible; promote stability; communicate well and often

Consistency – It is difficult to follow a leader who is inconsistent. They can look unpredictable and/or tasteless.

Credibility – It is impossible to respect a leader who does not have credibility. They can be seen as unreliable and insincere.

Stability: A leader who does not create stability in the workplace is uncomfortable to work for and may even seem to promote instability and insecurity.

Communication – It is difficult to follow a leader who cannot or does not communicate well. They are often misunderstood and believed to lack clarity of vision and/or direction.

ET can be abolished by following some innovative, as well as solid, tried and true management/people development practices. You need to know what those practices are and how to successfully implement them within your organization. Understanding what your good people need from you is the first and crucial step. Your great managers have to do the rest.

DMS Retail offers an insightful guide to people management as it relates to eradicating ET. For more information, visit

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