Leadership Lessons From Limp Bizkit...
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The Downgrade: When Your Talent Voluntarily Leaves for a Stinky Job...

In Mizzou, they're happy that this guy decided to jump ship for... wait for it... Tulsa.  Instead of working at the University of Missouri.

Which got me thinking about the concept of the self-inflicted demotion. Let's call it "downgrade Nixonturnover".  It exists somewhere between the realms of "voluntary and "involuntary" turnover.

Downgrade turnover happens when one of your employees leaves to take a job that's not as good as the one they have, usually because they were worried about their ability to keep the job with your company for performance reasons.
 
Downgrade turnover looks like voluntary turnover, but there's an involuntary smell to it as well.  They believe they're going to get fired, so they opt out - to a lessor job, which says it all.  
 
What's interesting about downgrade turnover is that it never happens at companies aren't hard-ass related to performance management.   If you never push, you'll never get any downgrade turnover.
 
Downgrade turnover is good turnover.  The probability was low that they were going to make it, and they opted out.  
 
The big question for your company is the following - what can you do institutionally to drive some downgrade turnover out of portion of your workforce that is struggling? 
 
The biggest thing is as follows - you tell the struggling talent, "unless things really turn around, I don't think you're going to be here in 6 months."   Tell them why that is, pledge to work with them and continue to the honest dialog.  
 
If you're not that honest with talent that's truly struggling, odds are you're going to look up 2 years later - and you guessed it - they're still going to be at your company.
 
Mediocre talent loves to hang around longer than you would like.  Be brutally honest and see if you can get some people to voluntarily downgrade.

Comments

MattL

Unlikely, but they may accept a lesser job at the current company. You need someone really mature to make this work. You need someone that can say, "Because of my [age/career and family goals/...], I need to take a job I can kill without excessive stress".

That road is fraught with peril though. Perhaps if you could make it be their idea...

Riffs on my idea are welcome. I don't have strong feelings on the subject.

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