By: Sandi Verrecchia @satoriinsight
Simon Sinek has been quoted as saying “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” For example, people don’t join a Chamber of Commerce because the chamber exists, but rather, they join to be part of something that is focused on creating a better community and to be a more integrated part of their community. The members stay if they believe that the chamber is living up to its values and purpose and if their individual values continue to align.
Employees are no different. Most people join an organization that has articulated values and a purpose that align with their individual values and aspirations. They feel good about what the company stands for and it motivates them to work hard and contribute to the best of their ability.
Over time, when one or more of these elements change people become unsatisfied and tend to look for something that provides a greater sense of personal alignment. Disconnection leads to higher than normal attrition.
In order to make thoughtful and impactful changes, it is important for organizations to truly understand why people are leaving. To do this a cultural root cause analysis should be completed. A cultural root cause analysis goes beyond exit interviews and assumptions and digs deep into what’s really happening within an organization. It taps into what is being discussed at the water cooler and the thoughts behind the eye rolls and marginal effort.
But let me be clear, cultural roots cause analysis are not always pretty. It can uncover ideas and thoughts that may not want to be heard. Ideas that may cause the senior leadership team to take a hard look at the organization and the alignment of espoused values versus actions. The reality is that employees, when asked in a non-threatening way, will talk about their reality. The reality, which from their perspective, is truth. For this reason, it is best to have an outside firm facilitate the discussions. An outside facilitator can draw out truths and conversations in confidence and relay aggregated data back to management without pinpointing individuals.
A culture assessment weighs the individuals against the group and develops the themes that are creating discontent. The common themes provide information to help an organization either get back on track or, at the very least, start to have a conversation about where things have veered from strategy and begin to build out the necessary change program to re-engage with employees.
While not an excuse, high employee attrition is often seen in organizations that are in a stage of high growth. The speed of the change and the need for quick decisions often means that the time is not taken to vet change against values and purpose – checking for alignment goes by the wayside.
Values change. Strategies change. Employees change. The communication around these changes and proper change management practices need to be in place to bring employees along the change continuum and to minimize discontent leading to attrition.
In Simon Sinek’s book “Start with the Why” he says “if we’re starting with the wrong questions, if we don’t understand the cause, then even the right answers will always steer us wrong…eventually. The truth, you see, is always revealed…eventually.” Getting to the why or the root cause of staff attrition quickly is the start of being able to mitigate staff attrition and creating staff engagement.
CMC, CPCC, MBA
Sandi Verrecchia is a Certified Management Consultant, holds a Masters degree and is a professional Leadership Coach. With over 20 years of experience in the financial services, academic and not for profit sectors, her diverse background of consulting, operations, marketing and sales is a wonderful compliment to her passion for coaching.