Kevin Pashuk en Directors and Executives, IT - Information Technology, beBee in English Chief Information Officer - Appleby College/ beBee Brand Ambassador • Appleby College and beBee 4/11/2016 · 3 min de lectura · 1,4K

Churn Happens

Churn Happens

If you've ever managed people, you are familiar with the little tap on your office door, followed by "Got a minute?"

Even if you have an open door policy and this person is in your office regularly, you've come to recognize the slightly hesitant tone in their voice, the awkward, uncomfortable silence after they settle into the chair.

You know what's coming next.

"I've accepted a job offer at another company."

Your inside voice says "Sh*t!!" because this individual is one of your better performers and it's a busy time in the office.

Your outside voice says "That's interesting! Tell me about it!"

I remember once reading that 20% of your team is either in the first year of their employment with you, or the last year of their employment with you.  You know which ones are in their first year.  It's not so easy to predict those employees in their last year.

Employee turnover, or churn, is inevitable for a number of reasons.

I'm not talking about the people who leave because you un-hire them, or those that quit because the work environment is toxic, but those employees that outgrow their position, and you can't provide the next step of challenge.

In small teams, advancing would mean waiting till someone died before a position came open.

So they start to look elsewhere.

Not because they want to.

Because they have to if they don't want to stay in the same position, at the same top of classification pay rate for the next several years.

Here is where leadership skills pay off.

In the scenario above there are two outcomes.

1) Total surprise.  (Hint: This is not the right one). It means you may have spent too much time in your office. I suggest you read the following post:  A (Not So) Subtle Message

If you weren't aware that one of your key players in your team had reached the limit of growth within your organization, there are much bigger problems.

2) Full support for the transition by both you and the other members of your team. While there never is a good time for churn, sometimes it is the right thing to do.  This announcement wouldn't be a surprise if you truly understood your team's personal goals and objectives. You would have already had the discussion around their long term goals, and together you would have been able to honestly agree that you couldn't offer the needed progression.

Planning for Churn

We use a term called "2 deep".  What this means that as much as practical, we have at least 2 people familiar with core systems, network architecture, etc. so that we are never caught off guard when it comes to things like vacation time (you DO take vacation don't you?), family issues, and oh yes, churn.

Some things to consider:

  • If one of your team tapped on your door tomorrow, do you know the projects they were working on, and the current status?  What are the long term projects in the pipe?
  • Do you have a good relationship with HR to be able to secure a replacement as quickly as possible, even if it is a contract position while you recruit?  The 2 week notice period you just received will evaporate in a flash.
  • If you have a number of people leaving, are you sure there aren't underlying issues that is motivating them to look elsewhere? (This is a topic for another post...)
  • Have you scheduled your confidential exit interview.  I usually base it around the questions "What worked well?", "What can I do to make it better for your replacement?", "What are the opportunities in your new position that you couldn't get here?" (Just in case I missed something).  If you have built a good relationship with your team, these sessions are productive and valuable.
  • Get your team together fairly quickly to talk about the transition, preferably before the person leaves.
  • Celebrate the time you got to work together as a team.  I know that for many of you, the idea of an IT department "celebrating" is a marathon session of Star Trek TNG, but I can assure you, we can get randy sometimes... and bring in a big box of Krispy Kreme donuts.

Have I missed any?  Make sure you add yours to the comment section below.

Churn is part of organizational life.  Whether or not it is catastrophic, or an inconvenience is a direct reflection of your leadership. 

There's much more to say, but I have much to do. We have a transition and a celebration to do.

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Note: A version of this was previously published on my blog: Turning Technology Invisible.

Image: Licensed under Creative Commons

About the Author:

Churn HappensI'm the Chief Information Officer for Appleby College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology.

I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.

In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee ( www.bebee.com/@kevin-pashuk ) , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at TurningTechInvisible.com.

I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream at www.flickr.com/photos/kwpashuk





Randy Keho 5/11/2016 · #18

#13 Leaving to work for a direct competitor usually results in being escorted out the door, giving notice is simply a tradition.
When I left Pepsi to work for Coke I fully expected to be escorted out the door, I'd seen it before. However, my superiors didn't believe me. They thought I was kidding. When I confirmed my decision they were at a loss for words and told me to just go about my day and we'd talk about it later.
When I returned at the end of the day, they told me I could just leave. No escort.

+2 +2
Robert Cormack 5/11/2016 · #17

Good points, Irene. We have become a "warm bodies" hiring complex. #15

+2 +2
Irene Hackett 5/11/2016 · #16

By the way, I should have added that I abhor that heartless saying "It's just business, don't take it personally."

+1 +1
Irene Hackett 5/11/2016 · #15

#11 Is "loyalty" even a reality in the Corporate world? I agree with @Robert Cormack, employees are guarded and they should be. Any company will 'off you' in a heartbeat. "It's just business, don't take it personally." Turnover does happen, but a good manager will have little turnover. I have been a hiring (and firing Manager) for over over a couple of decades and must say, @Kevin Pashuk offers some of the best advice in how to manage a team, the best of which is to KNOW them! Take the responsibility to understand the people on your team, their strengths, their weaknesses, their personal lives (a slippery slope, but necessary to a degree.) There should never be surprises - correct again Kevin! But there is one aspect of managing that I have always considered one of the most important, and that is the task of hiring - take the necessary time to learn how to ask open ended, real-world, scenario questions in interviews. Never simply hire a 'warm body'! Excellent advice in this buzz @Kevin Pashuk!

+3 +3
Robert Cormack 5/11/2016 · #14

I had that problem for years, Kevin. I was always on call. The only reason the agency didn't have a "two deep" philosophy was because they were too cheap. We were always running around with a million things to do. I think the real trick is to have people smart enough to pick up your work, handling it professionally, without being a relief pitcher. I've seen agencies (small) where everyone's capable of that. But nobody feels like the agency is hedging with two people. It's a subtle difference, but the second example I've given you has kept their employees for years. #12

+2 +2
Javier beBee 5/11/2016 · #13

#1 When I decided to leave Oracle and I told them I was going, they just wanted me out the door that day. I couldn't enter to the garage to collect my belongings :-) If someone turns in their notice, most often we don't want them sticking around for the transition/notice period, they are out the door that day. In my humble opinion, they have their minds elsewhere. One of the issues we face sometimes in the past is about getting all the information they had. Now. the cloud solves this past problem.

+5 +5
Kevin Pashuk 5/11/2016 · #12

#11 The other side to "two deep" Robert, especially on a smaller team, is that people can actually take a vacation without being on call... Especially those responsible for critical systems.

... But I understand your perspective.

+2 +2
Robert Cormack 5/11/2016 · #11

The "two deep" philosophy is a good one, Kevin—but also a bad one. We've reached a point in corporate thinking that everyone is expendable. When we reach that point, it's like a relationship. We're always a little distant. Everyone can sense in—especially the employee. And like with a relationship, that person goes from being committed to being guarded. That's the first thing headhunters look for. When they cold call, they're listening to your voice. When they say, "Have you ever entertained the idea of working somewhere else?" The committed person doesn't have to think. They simply say, "No." The guarded employee will pause. It's the pause good headhunters want. There's leverage. That's how you lose good employees. You can pay them well, encourage them, offer a wonderful working environment, but they know you have a "two deep" philosophy, they're never going to be completely loyal.

+4 +4