The most critical skill for managers today is finding, hiring, and keeping highly competent talent.

But frankly, we need to a significant amount of “weeding out” when we don’t make that perfect hire. Welch and GE received dubious press for their “forced rankings” process, but more organizations today are doing that same thing – directly or indirectly. Taking a hard look at the bottom 25% performers and asking, “can we do better?”

Additionally, some turnover is always “good.” When a hiring mismatch occurs, the discomfort and feelings of responsibility in hiring usually just create an uncomfortable environment, and both the company and employee are usually better served by finding a better match, whether that means resignation (voluntary turnover) by the employee, or termination (forced turnover) by the employer.

And sometimes it’s not simply performance on a 1-10 scale. If the business changes, restructures, or re-engineers, it may create an obsolete employee from one who was satisfactory before. Again, if the match isn’t “right,” the quicker the turnover, the better. Additionally, some of the old axioms about turnover are still true; we always need “some” rotation of talent to provide for new thinking, new ideas, and new approaches.

Also interestingly, I have a client that recently lost its top engineering manager. The leadership team had, for some time, realized that this person was not a good fit for the role, mostly for interpersonal (not technical skills) reasons. This engineer finally realized he was ill-suited and, frankly, not really welcomed, and he resigned. Is the organization better for it? Certainly. Is the employee? Probably, as he now has a position at a company that – hopefully – better matches his personal skills, knowledge and abilities.

Turnover isn’t necessarily bad — it just “is.” Manage the bad, make the “good turnover” happen timely, and it will all shake out in the end.


Kevin Berchelmann

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