March 11, 2010

Seven Signs to Avoid the Four Losses: Are You an Ostrich or an Eagle?

The story goes that when the ostrich wants to block out the world it sticks it’s head in the sand. If there’s nothing to see things can’t be too bad. Right?! The eagle on the other hand looks for a better and more strategic view. The higher it goes to a lofty vantage point the more it can see possibilities for food as well as potential threats. Are you an ostrich or an eagle?

Whether you’re a manager or an employee retention is a critical issue for your survival. Let’s review the four primary losses that accompany attrition and then we’ll look briefly at seven early warning signs.

Lost Productivity X Four

  1. Here’s the first level of lost productivity. The typical team member begins thinking and planning about leaving from three to six months before they actually depart. This is a period of partial to full disengagement and can be very costly to the organization.
  2. Secondly, there will be a loss of productivity when the person is gone because there will not be anyone who can quickly take their place. This vacancy could remain open from three to six months or longer. That adds to the problem and the loss of productivity.
  3. Next there is a loss of productivity even after the replacement has been found during the on-boarding and training phase. This can easily take weeks or months before a return to full productivity is reached.
  4. Finally, there is the time and energy drain on those employees who are involved in the recruiting, hiring and training of the new person which takes away from their normal levels of productivity.

This ripple effect can involve over a dozen people scattered in several departments and equate to the loss of tens of thousands of dollars or more. That is a huge and costly loss that can be avoided if you’re eagle eyes are open and trained to spot certain details.

Seven Early Warning Signals

If you find yourself described by these signals this might be your own personal wake up call. You may need to have a chat with your boss about your own level of discontent or discouragement and how it is impacting your behavior and productivity. Or you might be hearing from him/her if ‘ostrich’ isn’t their typical reaction to problems.

Either way recognizing these signals will be a red flag you don’t want to ignore. Retaining those who are engaged and productive is more critical than ever in this weak economy.

Some of the early warning signals you might see are:

  • Increased sick time
  • Arriving later or leaving earlier than normal
  • Increased web browsing and personal calls
  • A drop in productivity either in quantity or quality
  • Frequent disagreement with management and company policies
  • Stops volunteering for projects
  • A non-complainer expressing discontent
  • Refers to departed team members

There are other potential warning signs but this list gives you a smart starting place to recognize those who are planning their departure. In the coming months and years of the ‘new economy’ knowing the value and importance of how to avoid the four losses will be one of the three top reasons for your personal success and that of your organization.

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