Employee Turnover: Shut The Back Door

There’s a lot of instability in the sales world right now. It’s clear from the tone of message boards, forums, e-mails, and business meetings that the ripples in the water are developing whitecaps. While all of the attention is on somehow innovating ways to continue building revenue, there’s an even bigger problem that will potentially cancel out a large number of marketing efforts designed to build brand trust: Employee turnover.

It’s not the 80’s anymore, folks. You can’t expect a terminated employee to remain quiet when you let them go for not meeting the quota you assigned them using your antiquated sales systems. It’s 2016, and they have networks, connections, friends and followers. People “like” them and their online communities reflect their shared, complementary world views. So what happens when they post on their timelines that they just got fired from the job they were enthusiastically posting about getting just two months ago?  It’s likely to be “Outrageous!”  Even more so are the numbers.

Let’s say you hire, train, and fire 5 people per year and each averages 200 close online contacts across all of their networks. That’s 1000 people per year that no longer hold you or your brand in high esteem: You fired their friend…You now suck.  Not only that, guilt by association concludes that your brand and everyone affiliated with your brand now sucks.  But wait…we’re STILL not done sucking:  The industry with which your brand is affiliated sucks, too.  “A thousand people in a one-rep market doesn’t make that much difference”, you say? What if you’re not the only brand OR industry representative in the market? What if there are 20? Or 200? As a group, you are burning through 1000 people per year.  Potentially 200,000 of the customers you intended to market your products and services think, you guessed it— that YOU suck. Does that get your attention or are you still not buying it? That’s what I thought.

Here’s what is baffling: Nearly every forum places the blame on the employee for their failure to produce!   “It’s that damn (fill-in-the-blank) generation! They just don’t want to work!” Heaven forbid anyone would entertain the possibility that the world around them is changing at the speed of light. I learned years ago that you have to provide employees all of the tools and training necessary for them to succeed or else they will fail. I also learned that you manage things, but you LEAD people.  How many true leaders seriously have NO contingency plan when all trends over the last decade have indicated major changes are on the horizon?  How is it in the realm of possibility that interrupting people’s lives to initiate a sale is going to work forever? Do DVR’s, disconnected land lines and DNS database usage stats not send a message to anyone else?

The internet’s inherent advantage is that customers can tell brands how they want to be served in real time. Unfortunately, it seems that very few are listening. Instead, enthusiastic people with unlimited potential are being turned off by legacy companies every day because the only tools they are trained to use are obsolete. There’s also a subliminal message being conveyed to great current and future customers: “This brand isn’t equipped to serve you on your terms.  You need to get online and build a relationship with one that’s looking to the future instead of living in the past.”

Even the best marketing strategists can’t dig themselves out of that hole.

Love What You Do


What if worldview and personal media brand were to become the basis for hiring instead of job history or work experience?  Why would this make sense?  

You usually get a job to make money to fulfill needs and wants—you need a car, a house, you want a new TV.  So you go to work every day for a wage that accumulates into income that you can spend.  I’m not saying that having a job and making money are bad things.  What I AM saying is that approaching a job in this manner makes all stakeholders miserable—Unless you are passionate about what you do, you can’t wait for your shifts to end.  That emotion becomes readily apparent to the last customers you serve every day, which, in turn, gets communicated to the business owner in the form of complaint letters or, worst of all, lost business.

I don’t believe there aren’t enough jobs for people, nor that there are not enough people for jobs.  What I DO believe is that there are many people in the wrong jobs because they either don’t want to find the perfect ones or that employers are content with the way things are even if they aren’t operating at optimal levels.  This puts all parties in a difficult position. But what if it was easier to find the “perfect” fit?  Wouldn’t it change the way everyone sees “work”?

Maybe a big reason wages have skyrocketed in the last two decades is because employers had to start paying people to be happy.

When To Stop Looking

How do you decide?  And what if you could reduce how many different things you needed to look at replacing because you were totally happy with what you have?

Every month I get a thousand letters or cards asking me to look at new cars, a different bank and insurance company, a new credit card, a better cable TV provider, a great vacation, or pretty much anything else you can imagine.    And I’m not the only one who deposits that mail directly into the shred pile.  Why?

Because the 2008 Honda Civic Si sedan is my all-time favorite car, my bank and insurance company provides unbeatable service and a mobile application that’s second-to-none, my credit cards (2) have the lowest rates in the industry, Directv may not be the cheapest, but the picture quality is fantastic, and I much prefer a “stay-cation” because flying isn’t really my thing.

What can anyone who reads this ascertain?  I’m pretty happy with almost every aspect of my life.  Sure, it’s taken all of 49 years to figure it out, but there aren’t many things I’d change right now.  That’s why I can devote so much energy to doing what I do better so the people I help every day get more value from my service.  What about you? How happy are you with your current situation?

On Being Analytical

The ability to think through every aspect of a change is both a gift and a curse.  Analyze too much and the “go-getters” pass you by, sprinting out to a commanding lead.  Don’t analyze enough and you’ll be running the 1600-meter hurdles instead of the 100-yard dash, stumbling over unanticipated obstacles every 5 steps.

The starting point is defined by a very fine line.  In reference to a significant change in a process or organizational culture, it represents a clear balance of understanding versus being understood.  The moment you sense that balance shift, pull the trigger no matter the level of competition in the field.  Chances are good that you’ll break through the ribbon without noticing a single hurdle.

Overcoming the Bell Curve

There are certainly exceptions to this next statement:  Let’s say the top 10% of students in a given field of study—the cream of the crop, so to speak.  This post applies to those who make up the bell of the curve:  Just because you have a degree from a prominent university doesn’t mean (for the vast majority) that you are entitled to a six-figure salary.  The quality of education certainly helps your prospects of achieving success, but the people out there who are willing to work a lot harder ( and a lot smarter) can do just as well.  In many cases, the work you find yourselves doing throughout your lifetime will bring as much (or more) satisfaction than the big payday right out of the gate.

What’s the relevance to this forum?  Stopping the interruptions also means being relevant and setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack.  Interruptions are unwelcome, irrelevant distractions.  Unfortunately, anyone who doesn’t bring anything interesting or unique to the table for an employer to sink their teeth into are also interruptions.

The opportunity to make an impact on the world has never been greater. Go make it happen by bringing value to the interaction.

A Recruiter’s Epiphany

Wearing neon makes a statement to the effect of “Look at ME!”  It’s so bright that it can be distracting.  Don’t believe it?  As how the Baylor men’s basketball opponents feel.  The problem with “Look at ME!” is that once you get the attention, you’d better have something substantial lined up to keep it.  You may be told by traditional recruiters that a nicely-formatted resume and a grammatically-correct cover letter on expensive paper sent in an equally-expensive envelope is sufficient.  If you believe that, then answer this:  If that envelope and its contents are all you are using to make an initial impression, how are you any different than any other author of any other cover letter in the world?

If your objective is to stand out in the crowd, you have to go bigger than just neon.  You need to keep your target focused directly on you in a way that makes everything else in the moment seem irrelevant, and I don’t believe two pages of expertly proofread personal documentary is enough to get the job <done>.  In today’s world, the hiring manager across the table needs to see their world in a way that they could have never conceived before meeting you.

Hire ME!!

Yesterday was the second time I’ve been a guest on the local university’s “What Employers Want” panel.  The first time was about 6 years ago.  As I was preparing for the questions the students had been prepped with in advance, it became apparent that even though their questions were going to be the same as always, there was no justice in giving them the same “canned” answers.  Their world (and mine) is exponentially different today than it was even last year.  How is it possible, then, to help students entering the work force in 1-3 years understand these changes?  By applying consumer marketing strategies to the graduate recruiting process.

First, content matters, so be interesting and unique off the paper as well as on it.  Like consumers, employers are faced with interruptions all day long.  Their tolerance for average or traditional cover letters and resumes is fading fast.  You’re going to need to stand out and not only get attention, but maintain it throughout the hiring process.

Second, you need to know yourself better than ever.  You need to know your strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly, be able to visualize yourself already in the organization with which you are applying.  You must communicate precisely what benefit there is to that person for hiring you.

Third, you need to know the prospective organization better than you even know yourself.  Sending out mass numbers of resumes (the marketing principle of “reach”) is going to become less effective, just as sending out mass mailings is becoming for products and services. Return on investment rates will continue declining as the volume of noise and interruption grows.

Finally, instead of “reach”, utilize the strategy of “frequency”.  Identify three or four companies you would absolutely LOVE to work with because of what you learn about their corporate culture, their leadership, their benefits, their promotional opportunities, etc., then begin connecting with people inside the organization at any level you can.  LinkedIn is a great resource for this.  Subscribing to the idea that people do business with people they know, like, and trust, it becomes more likely that a referral from a person inside the organization to a hiring manager would be more enticing than a cold resume submission.

There’s a lot more to come on this subject.  It’s too broad to cover in one post.

Why me?

It’s always been social media fashionable to have a lot of followers/contacts/friends.  When the whole wave started growing, everyone wanted to connect with everyone else.   LinkedIn was almost a race.  It was a status symbol for “500+ Connections” to be displayed on someone’s profile page.  “Now THAT person is important!”  A few years later the secret was out:  Many of those people didn’t really KNOW all of their connections.  In fact, some even BOUGHT their connections just so they could say they hit the magic number. Suddenly the credibility of the followers, contacts and friends came into question.

Requests to connect come to my inbox every day, some from people I know and some whom I’ve never met. In either case, I always pause and ask:  “Why me?”  Why does this person want to connect and is it consistent with the explanation I’d love to hear:  “I need your help. Not with your product or service, but with insight about how to improve my own situation.  If your assistance is beneficial beyond my expectations, you will have earned my trust.”

That trust is worth far more down the road than a sales transaction today.