The Tricks and Treats of Staff Turnover


Happy Halloween!

Today is the day in America when we have come to expect more treats than tricks.  Tricks are fun sometimes, but treats are much more appreciated!

It is the same in business.  We’d much rather get treats than be tricked.  “Tricks” are the cause of employee turnover.   Staff turnover can be the worst, most expensive “trick” for any business.  Turnover realistically cannot be eliminated, but it can be reduced greatly when you provide staff with more “treats”

By treats, I don’t mean more money.  In a list below of 12 items that contribute to greater satisfaction on the job, adequate compensation is 10 on the list.  There are 9 other items that staff members view more valuable than pay. (Find the complete list at the end of this post) 

“The back office staff does not need training (staff meetings) because they just do what we tell them to do.  It is the front office team that can benefit from consistent conversations and idea sharing”.

The picture above depicts my reaction when I heard a doctor actually say the quote above.  (blood-curdling scream)

This was said by one of two partner doctors who I have discovered think very differently from each other, but who also think very differently than what experience has taught me will bring them the greatest success in business.

These business owners were inadvertantly playing “tricks” on their staff members by non-verbally making three statements:
1. “Your ideas are not necessary, and probably unrealistic”
2. “Your abilities are just not that important to your job”
3. “Your role in our business is to show up and shut up”

I also learned that salary increases were being made arbitrarily.  The senior partner (who handled payroll) would occasionally say to an employee “I’m giving you a raise”.  There was no further conversation.  No reason was given for the increase, and no explanation for the amount of the increase.  Because the senior partner had decided on a “cap” for salaries, this pay increase was very rare.

Besides the arbitrary pay increase, no employee had ever had a performance review at this practice.  There had been no protocol for either praising or disciplining employees.  There was no vision, no mission, no values to align with.

I could imagine a group of 6 people coming together, and an assignment being given “we’re going to build a house”.  Without any instruction, the work would begin.  How do you think the “house” would turn out? 

It had become very clear to me why the staff at this particular practice were not communicating well with each other, nor well with their patients.  I also understood why the competence level seemed so low–there was no set criteria for a level of competence.  Even if there had been, without feedback and performance review, how would you ever know if you were measuring up?

The unspoken rule in this workplace was, “Do your job, get paid, and don’t try to improve anything.”

If this practice would just incorporate 3 “treats” into the character of their employee communication standard, the practice would have greater productivity, increased teamwork, and greater profit.

1. Have a written personnel policy manual stating expectations, protocols and communication standards.
2. Develop a written job description for each team member–highlighting the strengths and abilities needed to perform up to the defined standard.
3. Provide opportunities for training and collaboration to enhance a sense of ownership.

These changes won’t happen overnight–especially when expectations are introduced.  There will be some resistance.  However, those who resist a better work environment, better communication, and accountability are probably not the employees who are loyal anyway.  These are the types of employees who play “tricks” on their employers.   Let them go!

If you are an employer, and identify any of these characteristics in yourself, think about your outcomes.  Are you making the profit you’d like to?  Are you happy with the performance of your employees?  Do you recognize that a change may be the difference between success and failure?

“Oh, Bee-have”! says Jackie the Bee.
When you “bee”have like a leader, you will have greater success in business!


Based on surveys by Bent Eriksen & Associates of hundreds of staff members, here is what employees indicate would contribute to their productivity and sense of satisfaction on the job (“treats”):

1.     Ethically sound business principles and quality services. 
2.     A consistent and fair management style where policies are friendly, frank, fair and firm, consistently applied and clearly explained in writing.
3.     A pleasant and harmonious work environment with minimum stress. 
4.     Adequate facility, instruments, tools, equipment and supplies. 
5.     Competent, supportive and compatible team members. 
6.     Assistance in learning: to become more skilled, develop communication skills, make decisions and take initiative. 
7.     Clearly defined job responsibilities and expectations. 
8.     Recognition as an individual and as a team member. 
9.     Knowledge that their efforts are being appreciated and that inadequate work performance will not be tolerated.
10.  Adequate compensation and benefits. 
11.  Evaluation and feedback by the employer.
12.  Worthwhile staff meetings.

Art Without a Frame

Washington Post Staff Writer, Gene Weingarten shared a story in the Sunday edition on April 8, 2007.


It seems that on the morning of January 12th, 2007, Joshua Bell stepped into the L’Enfant Plaza of the Washington DC Metro station and offered a free concert to commuters there.  Wearing jeans and a baseball cap, he stood against a wall near a trash can and played his violin.   

Most of the commuters in the station that morning were mid-level bureaucrat federal workers with titles like, policy analyst, project manager, budget officer, specialist, facilitator, and/or consultant.   Evidently none of these well-educated, skilled people knew the impressive title of Joshua Bell

Knowing the man playing the violin that morning was an “American Grammy Award-winning violinist“, or “one of the finest classical musicians in the world” may have caused the commuters to pause and listen.  Maybe the fact that Joshua Bell plays a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin would have, at least, aroused curiosity in the people who walked by while he played that day in the station.  And surely, once a musician of such caliber begins to play a piece of music like “Chaconne” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor (which has been called, “not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of any man in history“), people would take notice, stop and listen, and drink in the magnificent sound.

But that IS NOT what happened.  According to the article, Mr. Weingarten reports that, in the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.  $32 for a man whose talents can command $1,000 a minute.

You may read the entire Washington Post story here: Pearls Before Breakfast

Following this experiment, Joshua Bell said, “at a music hall, I’ll get upset if someone coughs or if someone’s cellphone goes off.  But here, my expectations quickly diminished. I started to appreciate any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when someone threw in a dollar instead of change.” 

Before he began, Bell hadn’t known what to expect. What he does know is that, for some reason, he was nervous.

It wasn’t exactly stage fright, but there were butterflies,” he says. “I was stressing a little.”

Bell has played before crowned heads of Europe. Why the anxiety at the Washington Metro?

When you play for ticket-holders,” Bell explains, “you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I’m already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don’t like me? What if they resent my presence . . .

Joshua Bell was, in short, art without a frame.


I was reminded of this story because of an experience I recently heard about – a story that has very similar outcomes to Joshua Bell’s story. 

It seems that a business owner hired “Mack”, a talented consultant, whom the business owner had met before.  The business owner had personally witnessed Mack’s strong work ethic and varied skills.  Mack was hired by the business owner to accomplish a very specific task in the business.

Mack accepted a position as an employee in the business – with the idea that once the specific task was completed successfully, the business owner would see the worth of Mack’s skills.  Mack wanted to be viewed as a consultant to this business owner, and they agreed that after a 90-day period working together, that the business owner would pay Mack closer to his professional rate and their relationship would move more toward a partnership and away from an employer/employee relationship.

Well, just as in the case of Joshua Bell, the business owner in Mack’s story did not understand the worth of Mack’s talent and skill.  Even though the specific project was successfully completed, Mack’s position as an employee was hard to shake.  After 90 days, the business owner did not renegotiate the terms of their relationship with Mack, and instead kept treating Mack as an employee – including wages well below Mack’s worth.

Mack, on the other hand, felt that if he kept providing examples of his talent, and continued to serve the business owner with the tools of his consulting knowledge, that the business owner would see the worth of his position as a consultant, and that Mack would be paid what he was worth.  Mack believed that it would surely work out in the end, and that this business owner would become a client instead of an employer.

But that IS NOT what happened.  Mack reports that, in the 22-months that he’s worked with this business, and has provided the company with “solutions to their greatest challenges, tools, resources and innovative ways to improve essential aspects of the business, and opportunities to have greater security and safety in the business“, Mack has been given a $1 an hour raise.   

Mack, like Joshua Bell is “Art Without A Frame”. 

This business owner, like the commuters in the DC Metro Station, can’t see the pearls before him.  Many of us don’t know the priceless opportunities before us, or the valuable relationships we have been blessed with  We get too busy to stop, listen and drink in the music and the talent around us.

Are you guilty of this? 
Are there people you work with who are pearls in their talents and abilities? 
Are there individuals that add to your life, your business, or your happiness that you have failed to notice or value? 

Are you a pearl? 
Are you someone who, for whatever reason is not being valued? 
If so, what can you do to change the situation? 
What could Joshua Bell have done? 
What could Mack have done?

Three P’s of Empowerment

Would you like to be more EMPOWERED?  YOU can EMPOWER yourself when you discover the power-meant for YOU to create your own success!

Self-empowerment is developed when YOU master three characteristics:

  1. Preparedness
  2. Principles
  3. Promises

To enjoy the power meant for YOU, you must focus on preparing yourself early and often for whatever may come your way.  For instance, getting an education is the greatest preparation for career opportunities in the future.

Principles are values that YOU must live by.  Principles define who YOU are.  Are you honest?  Are you compassionate?  Do you live by the value of hard work, and understand that “luck” only comes after preparedness and principles have been practiced?  It’s true!

Anyone who is to be empowered must keep his/her promises.  Trust will take you a very long way in your relationships, career and life in general.  If you want more happiness and opportunity, then you must keep your promises.

These three P’s: Preparedness, Principles and Promises are required for you to be EMPOWERED with success, love, career, talents, and even enjoyment.

These three P’s were practiced by one of the greatest musicians of our time. 

 

Todd Sucherman, the drummer for the band Styx, recently spoke about how he empowered his career by living these three P’s.  With Todd’s approval, here is his story……

“Early in my career as a drummer, I was contacted by another band that had a gig the following weekend for which they needed a drummer.  I was available for the show as well as the rehearsal the Thursday before, so I accepted.  By Monday I received a tape of the 20 or so songs I needed to learn and I spent the next few days listening to the tunes over and over, even listening in the shower and playing along at every opportunity.  By the time Thursday arrived, I knew the material. I was ready.”

“I arrived early for rehearsal and had my gear set up well before the rest of the band arrived.  When they did, I introduced myself and offered to help them load in their gear.  After all were set up, I asked if we would be doing the songs in the order per the tape I had received.  They responded “Yes.”  I immediately counted off, “1-2-3-4” and drove right into the first song.  I got the gig within the first few moments of rehearsal.”

“If you want to succeed in this business, show up prepared, show up early, and show up ready to help in any way you can.”

~Todd Sucherman – Drummer, Styx~

Todd prepared himself by learning the necessary songs.  Then he applied principles of punctuality and service, which provided a positive path toward friendship with other musicians.  And then, he proved that he was trustworthy, and could be depended upon to perform well.  Todd had kept a promise, and his career was EMPOWERED.

The three P’s work!  If YOU want to be more EMPOWERED, then you must master the three P’s!

Watch Todd Sucherman drum solo