Do you actually go find out what is going on?
“Hey Greg, where is Joe?”
“He left, Aldric. Just yesterday.”
And that was the 3rd resignation in 4 months. That might not sound like a lot relative to The Great Resignation, but it poses an operational issue.
Gaps in the company’s operations widen when people start leaving in droves over time. The burden assumed by those at their desks increases. Crushing workloads may push others to resign in the future.
We must prevent the dominoes from falling. Today.
I went straight to the Regional CEO’s office. I shared my concerns and requested his permission to commission an internal pulse check. We need to know why we are losing good people.
He listened and scribbled notes while I spoke. After 30 minutes, Derrick commissioned me to execute the internal survey.
I went straight to work.
“I’d rather ride down the street on a camel than give what is sometimes called an ‘in-depth’ interview.”
Warren is right. To truly understand what is going on in our startups, we must roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty.
I made a point to keep things casual. The commissioned study is not made public either. The last thing I want is for team members to heighten their psychological defenses and say the right thing.
I needed them to tell me the real thing. Big difference there.
My first coffee fly-by was with Stephanie. She is fresh out of college, and she needed help with her work. When I asked why she did not approach her team members for help, she told me this.
“Everyone is so busy.”
I did not put it to heart because all of us are busy. It is the normal state of affairs. Stephanie continued.
“You know, the projects are really sucking a lot of our time that can be used to service clients.”
My ears shot up. I made mental notes on internal projects and customer service.
Next, I brought the Customer Success team lead to coffee 3 days after. It was under the pretext of understanding our current client accounts and how we are doing.
Badly was what he said.
I was shocked by this response. It bothers me because we cannot grow our revenue book in the long term if we start losing key accounts. The commercial side of me panicked.
“Aldric, we hired people for specific, structured day jobs with defined expectations. It is incompatible with our work.”
Just like that, it clicked. I understood.
I reviewed all job descriptions posted online starting from 2018. There was nothing special at first glance. Nothing has changed across the data set for the past 4.5 years.
I paused. I started to wonder if that was the real problem. And so, I printed the job descriptions and placed them side-by-side.
They were 80% identical. Word for word.
I stared in amazement. The answer I seek is right in front of me. Time to speak to Human Resource.
I shared my concerns with Shirley. She is the Human Resource Director responsible for hiring suitable candidates for the Asia Pacific region where I operate.
I explained that the regional operation is like a startup environment where we seek aggressive revenue growth and market visibility. Shirley listened without interrupting. I presented to her my findings of the job descriptions.
Shirley acknowledged the issues as they are. She commented that her team will work with me to reflect the human resource needs of the regional business unit.
I was glad.
I made my presentation to the C-Level executives 3 months after the commissioning of the internal pulse check study. The following keynotes were presented and endorsed.
- The need for candidates to handle defined tasks 60% of the time.
- The remaining 40% of their time will be allocated to other tasks as required. We are a lean operation. Being flexible with work demands is critical.
- The incentive structure will reward commitment accordingly. Variable bonuses will be catered for and unlocked quarterly, based on the premise of supporting the company to do whatever it takes for aggressive growth. Salary increments will be based on defined tasks.
There is a lot more we discussed which I will not elaborate on. However, I am glad that the job descriptions and the incentive structures are aligned. Team members can better understand expectations and how they will be rewarded accordingly.
Stephanie and Jeremey welcomed this change. We are moving in the right direction. One step at a time.
It is not about the money, the equity vestment, the position, or the title. No. Setting clear expectations during job interviews matters. A lot.
We cannot run a startup-like business unit as if it is a mature one with stabilized cash flows and well-defined roles and responsibilities. We need people who can cope with stress, rapid market change, and adapt accordingly.
Therefore, our incentive structure must support our objectives. That way, candidates who interview for roles in our start-like environment will understand who we are searching for.
The attrition rate will start falling. I believe so. And I am actively monitoring and speaking to people on the ground.
That way, I can respond to the situation with corporate policy changes super fast.