Well run companies have little, if any, attrition. Whenever I go into a business and they have consistency around those who work there, I always feel it’s a sign of good management and a well-run business. On the other hand, if a business has trouble keeping staff, it’s a sign of a poorly run business. Of course, there are the exceptions like seasonal businesses, for example, but by and large, I stick by my hypothesis. I will say that it took me a while to understand this concept, but there was a singular event that tipped the scales. It happened back in the late nineties when I was president of a company prior to starting Globalstar. We had a manager who was outstanding by every definition of the word. He worked long hours, he was honest, and his subordinates loved and respected him. Then one day out of the blue, he resigned. When that occurred, it sent a shock wave through the organization. It was like leadership had some explaining to do.
What was interesting up to that point was, if someone were to leave, everyone had the typical messaging around how they were never a good fit, they weren’t a team player, or whatever excuse made the leaver look less-than. But this time, things were different. We couldn’t excuse his departure away, because he was that good. There were those who made themselves look ignorant and small by using the standard excuses or explanations, but they failed miserably in making their case. I vividly remember the manager’s meeting (post his departure), where his leaving was being discussed. Once again, the excuses were there, but more subdued than usual. Finally, I said something I had not said up to that point. I said, “Where did we fall down with Joe?” Of course, that is not his real name, but you get the point. After I said that, you could hear a pin drop. It was not only an epiphanic moment for me, it was a collective epiphany for the entire leadership team.
We all learned a valuable lesson that day. If you want good people to stick around, then you had better stay close to knowing what they are thinking and feeling. People need to feel seen, heard, and valued. From that point on, we had a palpable shift in the way we approached valued employees. Instead of thinking our company was “all that,” we made sure to place our focus where it belonged, on employee satisfaction. Many leaders miss this critical aspect to running a good business. They are just overly mired in the greatness of what has been created and seem to forget about what helped build it—the people. It’s always about the people. And they have a choice. Companies that don’t lose sight of this all-important distinction are not only the sustainers, they are the gainers. They are the companies that don’t have to go on social media platforms and promote a happy environment, they do it where the rubber meets the road, with their people.