Being Fair to Seth Godin...
PR For Your Culture Goals - Better to Promote and Be a Target, or Stay Silent?

If You Think HR Owns Turnover, You're Already Dead....

Real Conversation at a company I worked for in the past.  Tell me who the caveman is, then who the progressive is:

Me (presenting slide deck):  So, here's the turnover stats for the month.  Part of what I'm workingLocal_h_-_as_good_as_dead on as the new guy is to give you more visibility related to turnover, then we can mine down to figure out where we have problems, and how we might be able to impact it.

Frank (functional area VP, with bully factor of 11 on a scale of 10):  My numbers high, and that's mostly because we hold people accountable in my shop.  Up or out, some choose to leave.  Glad HR's taking a look at it, and I'm also glad that they're taking ownership of turnover in the company.

Me:  <Biting my fist in my mind so I don't react>.

Gary (CEO):  Frank, you don't really believe that HR owns turnover, do you?

Frank: Sure I do, I've got to run the business and I'm glad they're stepping up to own it.

Gary: Do you think reporting is owning?

Frank: I don't follow.

Gary: Do you think that HR simply reporting turnover indicates they're the owner?

Frank: No.  I expect them to do something about it.

Gary: Frank, let me be clear.  You're accountable for turnover in your organization.  I'm happy that we have a credible HR function that reports on it and they can certainly help, but when you have 60% turnover in your organization, I'm coming back to you to ask you what's #@$@*# in your organization.  I'll ask Kris as well, but you're the one who's responsible.  You need to have answers.  You might want to ask Kris what he thinks as well.

Me:  <Staying silent, I really have nothing to add when the CEO is providing the lashing on turnover accountability.  The young capitalist might have piped in, but wow, have I learned how to shut up when things are going well.>

Frank: <Statements and gestures indicating he understands and agrees>

Meeting moves onto the next topic.

Easy to see who the progressive is, right?  The CEO. Now that I think about it, I should have given him a big freaking hug/sidebump/pound right then and there in that meeting.

Conversation brought back from long term memory as a reaction to this post from Lance at Your HR Guy, who questions the functionality of the exit interview as a replacement for your managers knowing what's going on and having open lines of communication with employees.  Good post, go out and give it a read....


Lance Haun

The whole conversation is exhausting and must be boring to anyone outside of HR. Who doesn't look at Frank or the manager who never gets why their employees are leaving and think that the person doesn't get it? It is a question of business sense.


KD - Love the Local H cover. Are you a high-fiving MF?

Creative Chaos Consultant

As the one who creates the TO reports for my company, I'm glad to see someone clarify who truly owns the figures. Excessively high TO is usually a sign of deeper issues and we (HR) are there to coach and support initiatives to reduce it. Where I work it's a huge focus-it's part of the line managers bonus program AND annual performance review.

Kris Dunn

Lance and Triple C - Thanks for checking in...

Rob - of course I'm a high fiving MF. We used to listen to that cut to get pumped up for minor league hockey in Bham back in the day. Wouldn't that be a great cut to cue up in the arena during a hockey fight?

"Youre haircut is atrocious
- its - been the same since 83
Your glory days are over
And sos your stonewashed jeans"

PS - here's a gem of a cut from Local H from a morning show. Watch them talk to the TV host, who's like Wink Martindale....

Jon Ingham

Come on guys, get with the plot. HR's never going to be strategic unless we can take accountability for human capital outcomes like retention of our people.

OK, I don't think HR should be accountable for turnover in individual departments - this has got to be owned by the functional area head). And it isn't responsible for taking specific actions within this function - that belongs to the functional head too.

But in my view, HR should take accountability for ensuring the turnover across the patch is kept within certain parameters (or, to avoid duplicating accountability with the functional heads, accountable for the proportion of these heads who meet their own accountability targets).

Now taking accountability for this may mean working on other things like leadership development or management of poor performing managers, rather than actual activities designed to reduce short-term turnover, but I do think it's an accountability that HR is able to, should, and really needs to take.

Lance Haun

I don't think we are attempting to shirk responsibility Jon. On the contrary, I think it is setting the correct expectation with the functional head (they are responsible for turnover) while being accountable to identify and give the tools necessary to improve turnover.

Now what happens if functional heads aren't given assistance or the reporting and analysis isn't useful? That falls back on HR. As does, in my opinion, continued organizational wide dysfunction as it is related to unwanted turnover.

Beth N. Carvin

I think it's pretty obvious if you are a functional manager that you are responsible for turnover in your area.

HR, however, is responsible for turnover from a corporate perspective. The big picture of turnover. What's going on where and why. HR needs to be the eyes and ears and the statistician and reporter and strategist for the CEO and SR. Execs.

I don't think this is what Kris is saying but if the department managers are the only ones thinking about turnover (at their micro level) then the organization is missing a giant piece of the turnover puzzle.

At HR's macro level it's often easier to see the real issues and tactfully assist or provide training or recommend policy changes or re-adjust recruiting, etc.

Playing a major role in tackling the reduction of turnover is one of the best ways that HR can provide real bottom line $$$ to the company.

Don't just count and report on the numbers -- put your business hat on, get involved and make a difference.

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