Always Blame Employees

​By Jon Isaacson

Whenever there is an issue such as consistently high turnover, strong leaders understand that the key to success is always having someone to blame.

Have you been placed in a leadership position? Are you often frustrated by the inefficiency of having several employees standing around the company water cooler talking shop? There they are again, drinking the water we provide, standing there talking about who-knows-what. What are they talking about, it’s probably negative, right? What does a strong leader* do, they make hard decisions and in a scenario like the one described above — they make the tough administrative order to rid the office of the true culprit of interpersonal discontinuity, that god-forsaken water cooler. That’s how accountability works, remove the source of the problem (More on Eliminating Blame).

[Before we proceed, for the sake of clarity (as sarcasm is missed by many), the above reference to the strong leader* is loosely referring to an individual that is much the opposite]

Now that the water cooler is gone, it’s time to tackle even more complex issues. In the water-distribution-unit-less organization there still exists an issue with costly employee turnover. An organization that is a revolving door of employees leaving the company via an ever widening door on stage left, has to invest in attracting, hiring and training new hires. The same individuals who have been placed in a position of leadership and who rid their subject organizations of hostile water coolers are the same who frequent their own watering holes to lament about the good old days when employees were loyal.

Even though people of our caliber would never be invited to sit in on such a meeting of the minds, if we could be a fly on the wall listening to the discourse regarding why such leaders believe employees leave their fine organizations we would likely hear the following:

  1. Organizations that have consistently high turnover experience such because those dang employees have their own issues that cause them to leave. A strong leader would never see consistently high turnover as an indication of an issue within the organization and it certainly would not be an indictment on the quality of their leadership practices.
  2. Employees who leave an organization that has consistently high turnover clearly weren’t the good kind of employees like those from the good old days. A strong leader would never heed consistently high turnover as a reason to ask departing employees whether there were any credible reasons as to why they have chosen to leave.
  3. Hiring is such an easy process, an organization can always find new hamsters to run in the hamster wheel, right? A strong leader would never inquire whether the organization has a clear vision, consistent values or facilitates accountability. Individuals placed in a role of leadership are often promoted by individuals who also were placed in a role of leadership by an endless cycle of individuals with the same perspective and quality of mentorship (How To Find The Right Mentor).

Consistently high turnover may be one of the deepest drains on organizational growth as it perpetuates a stasis in the development of employees, inhibits engagement and results in an inconsistent offering to clients. New employees can bring a fresh perspective to a company but without a clear and consistent process an organization will struggle with a clear identity that will assist to attract and keep quality employees. Consistently high turnover sends an alarm to prospective hires and clients, warning them to proceed with caution when engaging with your company. Yet, for the strong leaders that we have been referencing that same alarm is either ignored or is amplified in a pitch that they cannot recognize.

Author Travis Bradberry who co-wrote Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and frequently contributes to revered publications such as Forbes, notes that, “Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.”

If you are an individual in a position of leadership who has consistently high turnover and you blame your employees, don’t ask painful questions and do little to change the trend — than you are reaping the situation that you deserve. Change on the other hand requires listening taking a painful internal inventory and asking earnest questions as to reasons why the organization is unable to attract, motivate and keep high quality employees. Dear leader — bring the water cooler back and the next time there is a gathering of employees don’t wait until you are at your exclusive leadership watering hole to discuss your frustrations but engage your actual team, you may find the answers are closer than you thought (More on Conflict).

Connect. Collaborate. Conquer.

Originally published at