We Can’t Blame HR for Everything…

buy-in cost of high turnover cost of recruiting employee engagement employee retention improving your profitability by building better leaders influence leadership leadership culture leadership development management manager performance profit profitability profitability killers recruiting supervision supervisor turnover Oct 10, 2023
Improving Your Profitability By Building Better Leaders

Early on in this process we looked at two separate profitability killers that nearly always feed off of each other and contribute to just about every metric a company tracks; the cost of high turnover and the cost of constant recruiting. In far too many cases, the responsibility for each of these land squarely in the lap of something in the human resources department. And when that person takes even the slightest bit of initiative, they’ll work their tail off to produce the results their team needs. I say that with confidence because I’ve been the one to carry that responsibility for several organizations…

Several times through this process, I’ve referenced hiring 225 new employees in an 18 month period for one facility and the total headcount only increasing by about 10. As we looked at steps leaders could take to address the cost of an unaccountable workforce, I even shared how 150 of those 225 were for one specific job title, a role that likely had the most direct impact on the overall quality of the products our customers depended on. I could go on and on about that specific scenario but you may get the impression that this was an isolated example that couldn’t possibly impact your company’s bottom line the same way…Quite frankly, that was the first role where I held direct and complete responsibility for the hiring process so I couldn’t imagine that this same thing could be going on anywhere else - and I was dead wrong!

In nearly every organization I’ve worked with since, be that through providing support for their HR & recruiting needs or through the resources we’ve shared with the entire leadership team, I’ve seen pockets within those organizations that showed nearly identical patterns. While the numbers weren’t nearly as exaggerated, largely due to most of those companies having much lower overall headcounts, the ratios were eerily similar and I’d argue that the costs made even more of a dent in the overall profitability since those smaller organizations didn’t have as much room to absorb them.

There wasn’t much I truly enjoyed about the compliance side of safety but something I learned to do really well was identify trends and factors that contributed to incidents. By using that same thought process applied to recruitment and retention, it pointed right to John Maxwell’s statement in chapter sixteen of Leadership Gold, “Some studies estimate that as many as 65% of people leaving companies do so because of their managers. We may say that people quit their job or their company, but the reality is that they usually quit their leaders. The ‘company’ doesn’t do anything negative to them. People do.”

As I dug into the issues causing the highest turnover, and thereby creating the need for ongoing recruiting, in specific parts of each company, I found case after case showing where the team members who left had been butting heads with the individual they reported directly to. Let’s be honest here, the person who says they get along with everyone all the time will lie to us about other things too. That’s not the point I’m making though! These were all situations where the revolving door never seemed to stop turning and someone in a leadership role seemed to be the one spinning it. And every time, that same person was pointing a finger back to whoever hired a bad employee to begin with…

I remember hearing an analogy once that explained when Johnny has a problem with Jim, and Johnny has a problem with Joey, and Johnny has a problem with Susie, Johnny just may be the problem. When it comes to capturing the profitability that’s lost to poor retention and ongoing recruiting, all the burden doesn’t lie with Johnny’s HR department! 

In the same chapter of Leadership Gold, John also said that, “As leaders, we’d like to think that when people leave, it has little to do with us. But the reality is that we are often the reason.” While we had seen how our Emerging Leader Development course provided leaders at all levels of their companies with a foundation for building stronger engagement and buy-in with their teams, and our Leading At The Next Level program was offering ongoing support in many areas, we saw a glaring need for developing a resource geared specifically at detailing how much of a role every leader plays in the recruitment, retention, and culture through their organization so we created a course to deal with just that, something they could use as a guide to building AND keeping a great team.

It likely goes without saying that each of the resources I’ve detailed here emphasize the importance of effective communication in capturing lost profitability, but poor communication can impact profitability in every part of an organization even if the leaders have mastered it. With that in mind, the next tool we’ll look at addressed that better than anything else I’ve ever seen!