What can you do about a position that seems “cursed” with chronic turnover? Before you resign yourself to affixing a permanent “just visiting” sign over the desk, consider the following ideas.
If you go to the doctor’s office complaining of a chronic ailment they will typically walk you through an inventory of questions to uncover potential causes of the reoccurring symptoms.
Once all common causes are considered, they continue to rule out each possibility in order to isolate the core issue.
So what exactly is a “cursed” position? The job with the revolving spot on your open positions list, the ad most frequently placed, the “how long do you give them?” wagers at the water cooler. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably time to stop ignoring the signs and wasting time with “cross your fingers” hiring. Now is the time to establish a strategy to fix the problem once and for all.
Let’s review the key areas to examine:
Job Description and Hiring Process
Job Description and Hiring Process
- How accurate does the job description reflect the day-to-day work experience?
- Does it include specific skills AND measurable behaviors? In other words, what does this person need to do with those skills in order to be successful? For example, an important skill might be Interpersonal Skills. The measurable behavior that will demonstrate this skill might be “to demonstrate good interpersonal skills by having a positive, team-oriented attitude”. This helps you hold them accountable and helps them avoid inconsistent interpretation of performance standards.
- Are you conducting Motivation Matching to be sure you aren’t asking for a major league player in a little league role? (email us for the full article on MM)
Performance expectations / Goal prioritization
- How clear is the scope and focus of this role?
- Have you identified the top 3-5 goals for this position and assisted them in prioritizing through regular check-in meetings?
- Are you consistent in reinforcing these priorities or do you give mixed messages by allowing crisis management to dictate daily/weekly goals?
- Have you taken an inventory of their current skill base at the time of hire in order to plot out a comprehensive training calendar?
- Was their experience as a new employee so positive that it reinforced their decision to join your company? Or did it drive them to keep interviewing elsewhere?
Availability of information/resources
- Is it clear where to go to get the answers they need to perform their job effectively?
- Are they dependent on others to get certain goals or tasks accomplished? How pleasant or painful is that process?
- Are you enlisting the help of various subject matter experts to assist you in training your new hire and expand their network of resources?
- How often do you set aside quality time for the person in this role?
- Do they really feel known by you? Not just as an employee but as a person?
- Do they expect it must be bad news if they’re called into your office?
- Can they rely on you for clear, consistent, and candid feedback on their performance? Not at review time, but in the moment when it really matters?
Volume of work
- Is the amount of work reasonable for the time allotted?
- Do they go through spurts of chaos and periods of boredom?
- Is the compensation realistic for the caliber of person you desire?
- Have you laid out a clear path for career development and salary growth?
Atmosphere / Co-workers
- Is there anyone poisoning the water cooler? Check for common denominators amongst the team. Those who have interacted with the people in this role and curiously outlived them all.
- Do people genuinely enjoy their jobs? How does it show?
- Are you conducting thorough exit interviews to look for feedback patterns?
This is a thoughtful process that takes time. Too often we get so busy trying to fill the spot we don't stop and take the time to diagnose the real causes in order to break the pattern. As you go deeper and see the position through the eyes of those who have left it, you just might discover there was never a curse at all. Just questions unasked, truths untold, and ideas unimagined.