16 October 2022 |

Don’t be surprised when your team quits


No company should have a 0% percent attrition goal.

You’ll hire people who end up not being a good fit.

Others will find new opportunities as they gain experience and new skills.

But you shouldn’t be surprised when people leave.

People generally don’t like change. You can’t create the perfect situation for everyone to stay in, but you should consistently look for small changes to improve the work environment.

A lot of my consulting experience comes with working with call center leaders.

I once worked with a site that was having an issue losing people scheduled to work the night shift.

“People just don’t want to work nights. So they are finding jobs that pay less but are steady 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.”

My partner and I noticed that one team wasn’t having this issue. At the time, they hadn’t lost anyone the entire year.

When we asked the manager what she was doing to keep her seats filled, she told us,” I’m honestly not sure. I just ask them where they have the flexibility to be here at night and then do my best to make it work.”

There is a leadership lesson there.

Listen and do your best.

Here are 3 tactics you can use to stay in touch with your team:

Rephrase your questions

This one is gold and has helped me get valuable feedback from some of the most passive people I’ve ever worked with.

I got comfortable asking people for feedback, knowing it would help me improve. But some people still didn’t feel comfortable giving direct feedback to others (especially not to their boss.)

Instead of asking for feedback directly, I’d ask them, “When you hear complaints about me, what do people say? I’d love to hear it even if it will only help me get 1% better.”

Some people are more comfortable delivering feedback from others than from themselves.

Keep, Stop, Start

I broke this activity down on TikTok last week.

This activity allows your team to tell you what is working and not working in the organization.

Here is what you do:

  • Break larger groups into smaller groups of 4
  • Allow each small table group to discuss 
    • what the team should keep doing, 
    • what the team should stop doing,
    • and what the team should start doing.
  • After they’ve had time to discuss, bring the large group back together
  • Make a long list on a whiteboard as each group shares their notes

 As you make the long list, pay attention to the group’s body language as ideas are shared.

You’ll notice body language shifts when ideas are shared that are especially important to the group. 

Consistent 1:1s

This is the most important tactic.

Nothing will help you develop a deeper understanding of your team’s goals, obstacles, and concerns than taking time to listen to them.

Put this time on the schedule and protect it.

What you hear is much more important than what you say in these sessions.

Start each session with the question, “What’s on your mind?”

This question will let your teammate tell you what is most important to them. 

  • Lean in to show you are engaged
  • Ask follow-up questions
  • Be curious, not critical

If you have 30 minutes scheduled, they might need the entire time to talk about issues important to them. So let them have all the time if they need it.

You are their boss and can pull them aside to discuss items on your agenda anytime you want.

These three strategies work great when partnered together. 

To successfully receive feedback, be curious, avoid being defensive, and don’t make commitments in the moment.

The goal is to get help seeing your blindspots and collect insights you can use to make decisions that will benefit the group.

Have questions? Please reach out. I’ll always help if I can.