Why You Are A Stepping Stone And How To Stop Being One

Except for the rare times when turnover is a good thing (you never really wanted to hire your neighbor’s daughter) turnover is very costly in time, money, energy, and progress. A business’ goal is to hire, invest in, develop, promote, and reap those invested benefits within its people (hello, HR).

Losing people from the team is not something that is easily hurdled, if this becomes a pattern, it will handicap future success because it will affect areas that are fueled by longevity, including:


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Start here: Ask Your Leaders These 3 Questions to Create Ownership

  • innovation: people can contribute more once they understand, their replacement has to get their feet wet before their contributions are dialed in

  • depth: as you are trying to create leadership depth (multiple layers within departments who are leading) this remains under-developed as people continuously move on. The next in line may not be ready for that level of responsibility.

  • cohesion: even the most well-oiled machines will kink up when a new personality comes aboard. Part of retaining a team is the bond they feel amongst one another, and the norms that are established within that group. Cohesion is well worth finding out why you’re losing people.

When you are constantly hiring and training you fall into a painful and stagnant state. After a while…its time to look in the mirror. 


2 reasons for leaving that are reversible

  • Boredom: their day has become glazed over by routine, as every part of their work has become stale (boredom is a slippery slope). They do not see any spark of spontaneity, challenge, or change. While all humans are responsible for their attitude towards their own lives, it is in your best interest to help this along and at a minimum, combat this with awareness and novelty.

  • No Hope/no Opportunity: their career path is non-existent, they do not see any further value in continuing to spend time with you. This stems from boredom, but it’s worse. Now, they have lost any hope that opportunity or growth is even possible, in their eyes, they may as well be walking the green mile.


Why it got to this point:


Lack of Intimate Knowledge: your managers do not have a sense of their people’s abilities, strengths, likes, dislikes. Awareness is seeing what makes someone happy, when do they perform at their best, those are signs of joy…people will stay for joy. Awareness is also recognizing when they are having difficulties. Managers definitely are challenged in this area, it is cultivating the awareness of others over worrying about the day to day operations that can get in the way.

Having conversations on a regular basis is a must to acknowledge the value that person brings, their individual path, what they would like to learn, and how their skills can be cultivated going forward all will provide certainty. [Another opportunity here for leadership development in managers is learning how to have critical conversations.] Certainty is a big deal. With it, people can dig in and that it is safe to give their best selves.

Certainty also allows for two things:

  1. They feel seen: you care enough to ask, 'I am needed’ is a powerful message you are sending.

  2. Opportunity now provides hope: it is understood that where they are is not where they want to stay. When they have some say in their future, that there is the prospect of growth, in their mind future still equates to possibility.


Combatting Turnover: 

  • Breaking the routine: There are many ways to do this, cross training, establishing stretch goals. I read recently, I think it was Google, has a ‘fun project’ list that anyone can hop in on to take a break from the everyday. They experience novelty, a change of scenery, while getting necessary work done. We know part of the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, enough said.

  • Provide Opportunity for Ownership through Routine Conversations. Before you get overwhelmed at this process…begin here...Ask your managers, leads, supervisors the following 3 questions:

  1. What do they love to do? Awareness: Isolate something they love to do and amplify it, double down on their strengths brings you both peace of mind and potentially incredible results. Plus, that self awareness is a big part of continued leadership development for them

  2. What is the biggest challenge they are facing in their position? Pent up frustration will hinder performance and just suck the life out of everything. Be in tune with the realities they are dealing with.

  3. .What 3 things would they like to see be implemented or be different? Involvement: what changes do they want to see. You may find out it is simple shifts that will bring you lots of glory for listening.

If you start here, the beginning will begin to unfold. Pay attention to the answers you receive and see what your next steps will be based on those. When you get looks of doubt show that you mean business, you are just tossing the data aside. They are happy you had the talk, now they want to see the walk. But, keep them just as much invested in the game...this is not only on your shoulders. Again, involving them in the next steps is further proof of that, and is fueling ownership.


If turnover is continuous and you never question it, you’re never ever going to make that leap from good to great. You will plateau and will not move past where that tipping point.


In business and in life, you will only get as much as you give. In leadership roles, the giving is typically time, concern, and opportunity....and it is giving, to help develop the team, they are the ones doing the heavy lifting. They will appreciate the autonomy you provide for their own life and career.