Hello everyone.  I"m a long-time listener, first-time caller.

I have a retention problem in my organization.  In the past 18 months, I have lost 6 skips from my organization.  5 of these worked for Jane, one of my directs.  The latest of these is leaving after only 2 months in the organization-- she came from, and is going back to, another group in our company.

I have spoken to each of these 5 skips.  Each of these skips have given me their reason for leaving.  Individually, they all gave valid reasons.  Two mentioned that "Jane doesn't add much," which is the only hint of dissatisfaction with Jane.  Jane is nice, friendly, and well-liked throughout and beyond my team.  It is tempting to take everyone's comments at face value, and label Jane as pretty unlucky.  But 5 is a big number, and I know that at least one of Jane's current directs is also unhappy (but Fred has always been negative and discontent since I met him 3 years ago- so again, if he leaves it could be explained away).

We are a Manager Tools organization.  Both Jane and myself do O3s on a weekly basis, and practice the feedback model.  Jane is not too proficient at coaching, and part of me thinks that might be the source of the "Jane doesn't add much" comment.  But I am struggling to believe that people are leaving Jane because they are not being coached- it's not like managers who coach their directs are common.

Does anyone have any ideas on how I can figure out if Jane is the problem?  And if so, what the problem is?  Thank you.





Mark's picture
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...but other than that, it's hard to say.

Five IS a BIG number.  I'd hesitate to diagnose without seeing relative retention numbers, and budgets, etc.  

It could be one of her existing team.  It could be her...because simply doing O3s doesn't make one a good manager.

Have you asked Jane what the problem is?  Have you done ANY skip level meetings without Jane?  How have her organization's metrics been affected?

John_Henry's picture

Jane has no ideas, but is obviously concerned that it reflects poorly on her.  The amount of turnover in her group is WAY out of proportion to the rest of the team.

A skip meeting is a great idea.  Been on my list for awhile anyway.

Metrics wise, the turnover has impacted product ship dates, and led to other team members (not directs of Jane) having to take on some of the burden.



Mark's picture
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Jane does have a problem, and the solution is for you and her to work out together.  Hopefully there will be metrics in the future about retention... that kind of loss rate is expensive. WOW expensive.

How many people, how much growth, how many projects, how much change?

Has Jane listened to and tried our simple retention question?  Tracked results?  Were those who left performing appropriately?  What WERE the valid reasons?

peterddw's picture

It is possible that these departures are coincidental but I am inclined to dig deeper just to be sure. Mark is right on the money, these are very expensive events regardless if they are coincidences or not.

I would be inclined to conduct one on one meetings with the remaining skips. A group event is slightly less preferable especially if there is already a morale problem. I would initiate these meetings with the declaration that you are conducting them at Jane's request. Jane is concerned because the departures are very costly to the organization and she wants to be confident that the answers are objective and accurate. Departing employees have usually shared with their peers, other factors, that they may have withheld from their manager.

Losing skips is expensive but it is exponentially more costly to have a manager not properly aligned with our objectives. I have done these meetings on very rare occasions just to be sure to keep our investment in the direct on track. This is exactly why I like selective exit interviews. I know M & M did the cast on exit interview avoidance.  That was probably a Career Tools cast and I agree from the employee's perspective they aren't of use to you. They can be a very valuable learning tool for you as the employer but it is absolutely critical to perform them objectively and with diplomacy.