5 Clever Ways to Get Turnover Under Control

by | Jul 19, 2017 | approachable leadership

Looking to stop the “corporate death spiral” and get turnover under control?

Quick recap from last week:

There’s more to the cost of turnover than recruiting, hiring, and training expenses.

  • You lose tribal knowledge, connections, and intellectual property.
  • Additional pressure is put on top performers which leads to frustration, reduced productivity and innovation, and lost opportunity.
  • You also face the potential risk of a bad new hire.

All of this places you smack dab in a “corporate death spiral.”

The corporate death spiral means you’ll never get turnover under control. The loss of one employee (good or bad) feeds the flame. You end up stuck in a cesspool of negative effects. Which leads to the loss of another employee. And another. Throw in the loss of a customer or two (or twenty). Massive collateral damage.

What can you do to stop the bleeding? I thought you’d never ask.

Here are 5 Action Steps to Get Turnover Under Control

One: Be Approachable.

You probably guessed this one. But the fact is employees of Approachable Leaders have 71% lower turnover intention. And the main reason people quit their jobs is because their boss is a jerk. (Hot tip: don’t be a jerk.)

Unapproachable leaders are in the eye of the corporate death spiral. They can’t attract or keep talent. Even the company hesitates to place decent people in their department. And things just get worse and worse.

Approachable leaders have no problem keeping their talent together. It’s harder to quit a job when you have a real connection with your leader. When you feel valued and important. You know they believe in you and they encourage your growth. Which just makes the team even more valuable.

These are the three pillars of our leadership model: openness, understanding, and support. (This article dives into these concepts a little more.)

Two: Touch Base with your Hiring Process.

Sometimes turnover is a good thing. Like when the person who leaves wasn’t a good fit or they are a “B or C” level player. When this happens, turnover is an opportunity. If you handle it right.

Get in too big of a hurry to fill the position and your new employee may be worse than the one you lost. Or just as bad. In either case, you set your organization up for failure.

In 2010 Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said bad hiring decisions cost his company “well over $100 million.” Ouch! And it all starts with management. Bad managers make bad hiring decisions.

Chances are good your talent acquisition process could use an upgrade. Do you feel like your process is about average? I’ve got bad news for you:

Organizations fail to choose the right talent for management positions 82% of the time.”

Three: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.

Remember when I said a lot of people quit because of their boss?

When leaders get frustrated, stressed, and overworked (sound familiar?) is when things fall apart. Your patience plummets and you close off from your team. You become hard to approach and communication skills take a nose-dive.

That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself. Give yourself what you need (time, space, an hour to yourself, or even a day off) so you can be the kind of leader your team needs.

You’ve got yourself in check. Now you need to get your turnover “early warning system” in place.

Four: Look for Signs an Employee is “On the Fence.”

Quitting a job is a huge decision for most people. It involves a lot of preparation. It takes courage to leave the stability and financial security of a job. Even if the next step is in place, it’s still unknown and uncertain.

Most people think about quitting quite a while before they pull the trigger. And if you pay close attention, you should recognize when you’re on the verge of losing someone. Signs to look for include:

  • a drop in performance;
  • changes in relationships; and
  • decreased enthusiasm about the company and management.

We are releasing an Early Warning Toolkit on these “tells” soon. Stay on the lookout for that.

Five: Focus on Ways to Include an “At Risk” Teammate.

After bad leadership (and often in addition to bad leaders) there are three main reasons people quit a company:

  1. They don’t feel they belong;
  2. They don’t feel they matter; or
  3. They feel stuck.

These three areas are where to focus if you notice the signs someone is looking to jump ship. Help them see that they are a valued member of the team. Make sure they connect their work with the mission of the company and the value it brings to your customers and the world. Work with them on making progress and give them more say in their work life.

Engaging employees is an important way to reduce turnover, but it’s tricky. We broke it down for you in two recent blog posts here and here.


To get turnover under control you must understand why people quit in the first place. Here are the 5 action steps you can take to turn around your turnover problems:

  1. Be a more Approachable Leader. People rarely quit leaders they love. Approachable Leaders know what’s going on with their team.
  2. Touch base with your hiring process. Hire slow. Be patient. Get the right person, not the next person. If you get this right this person will be on your team a long time.
  3. Check yourself. Don’t be the reason your turnover rates are so high. Remember to take care of yourself so you can be the kind of leader your team needs.
  4. Look for signs an employee might be “on the fence.” People rarely quit out of the blue. Look for the tell-tale signs your team members might be looking for greener pastures.
  5. Focus on ways to include an “at risk” person. Once you’ve identified a dissatisfied team member, do your best to turn it around. Find out what they need more of. Or less of. Act on it.

What’s your experience with retention? Are your hiring and onboarding processes effective? Do you have any leaders driving away top talent?

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