This is Challenge #6 and it shows up in Stage 4.

I’ll introduce the challenge of employee turnover by asking a few questions that I believe are at the heart of the issue that you may want to explore with your CEOs:

  • Do you take the time to help your managers understand what you expect from them and what they can expect from you?
  • Do you have a strong relationship with each of your managers?
  • Do you know if your employees respect their manager?
  • How well do your managers connect with their staff?
  • Are managers getting the best out of each person?
  • How do you track a manager’s performance?
  • Are managers working with direct reports to set clear expectations, establish key indicators and then managing to those expectations?
  • Do you have a leadership development program in place? If the answer is yes, is it effective?

If the answers you hear back aren’t a resounding Yes across the board, that company probably has a high employee turnover rate, or they could have underperformers who are slowly sucking the life out of the business. Each of these questions should force a CEO to intentionally think about the reasons great people stay with their company. If that CEO isn’t connected with each manager, how can he/she know how well that manager is connecting to his/her direct reports? The short answer is they can’t. High employee turnover begins when a CEO is out of touch with his/her managers.

When company’s find great employees, it’s the job of leaders and managers to keep them. The disturbing reality, according to a variety of different studies and Jeffrey Pfeffer’s book, Leadership BS, “The vast majority of employees are unhappy with their work, disengaged and hoping for a different job. And more to the point, employees are unhappy with their leaders. Very, very unhappy.” The challenge of employee turnover has many underlying issues. To get on top of it, CEOs need to:

  • Understand what positions are needed to move the company forward to ensure that they know what to look for when hiring people
  • Know what skills and talents are needed today and for future growth, and map those skills to positions so the people you hire can perform the work needed
  • Set clear expectations for all employees and then manage to those expectations, which requires performance management systems that instill standards and measurements

The fact is, regardless of the systems a company has in place, there will be employee turnover. How a CEO and their leaders manage it is the test of how well leaders “walk the talk” regarding the culture of their organization.

Managing people is hard work. In fact, there is nothing harder. Therefore, this critical aspect of running a company demands the leaders’ time, demands systems that focus on helping employees be productive and demands that expectations are written down so everyone knows what is expected. To keep exceptional employees and to reduce employee turnover, it’s not enough for a company to just say that people are their greatest asset. They have to actually show they value their people. If a company is experiencing a high level of employee turnover, it isn’t okay to dismiss it by thinking it was inevitable or that the employee wasn’t that strong.

When a company loses exceptional employees, the loss can be seen in three critical areas:

  1. Impact on other employees
  2. Impact on the bottom line
  3. Impact on productivity

Here are three small steps you can share with your CEOs that will immediately move a company from good to great when it comes to employee retention.

Discussion point #1: Articulate your philosophy about the people who work for you. Write down your answers to these five questions.

  1. How do you want your employees to feel every day when they come to work?
  2. What do you want them to believe in?
  3. What do you want employees to know about your company?
  4. How do you want them to treat each other?
  5. How do you want your employees to treat your customers?

Once a CEO is clear on the answers to those five questions, have them ask each of their managers to answer them too. Better yet, have them answer them together as an exercise.

Discussion point #2: Working with your management team, determine:

  • How will you communicate your philosophy of people to the employees in your organization?
  • How will you reinforce employee commitment to the above?
  • How will you address employees who challenge the above?

If your CEO hasn’t created the core values that drive organizational behavior, encourage them to make this a priority. Core values help employees make decisions that line up with these critical beliefs. 

Discussion point #3: Once you and your managers are clear on core company values, find out what makes each person tick. Every single employee needs to be able to identify the following:

  1. What do they feel their strengths are? Are they doing work that plays to those strengths every day?
  2. Does each employee know what’s expected of them? Can they articulate their value to the overall goals of the company?
  3. Does each employee have the equipment, materials and supplies they need to do their work?
  4. In the last seven days, did they receive recognition or praise for doing something well?
  5. Do they feel someone – their manager, the CEO – cares about them as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages their development? Has someone talked to them about their own goals and aspirations?

Retaining exceptional employees is the only way a business can capitalize upon profits, productivity and performance. The number one job for any leader is the development and management of people. Without them, there won’t be a business to run.

Starting on page 170 in my Stage 4 book, Managing the Managers: How to Accelerate Growth Through People and Processes with 35 – 57 Employees, you’ll find Four Steps that will Reduce Turnover. You can get your Stage 4 book at

Your Success. My Passion.

Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!