The high cost of slackers

One of the major reasons turnover is so costly is because companies keep non-performers in their jobs too long.

Someone who is not executing their job well costs a great deal in terms of lost productivity, poor morale and lost opportunities, not to mention frustration, anxiety and stress.

Mary was a top performing salesperson in the broadcast industry.  Her specialty was new business development, which was the most valuable type of business to her company and the category she had the highest incentive to pursue.  Mary had been with the radio station for six years and was considered a top performer in the industry.

Talbert was the station’s production manager, responsible for producing the commercials that Mary and the rest of the sales team sold.  Talbert was also a top performer, and because of his talent he was recruited to another station, one that was well known for growing and developing people, promoting from within and having a close, connected team.

When Talbert left, the station hired Rick to take his place.  Rick looked good on paper and for the first two months seemed to catch on quick, but as the work piled up, he was not prepared.  He had not been trained and missed several of the basics that would have saved him time, helped him stay organized and feel confident in his role.

Mary promised new customers a short turnaround time to get them on the radio, but she had to rely on Rick to get his job done to keep her promise.  When Rick caused delays, she looked bad with a new client and both she and the station lost out on potential money every single minute the client wanted to advertise, but couldn’t because Rick was late producing the commercial.

For six years, Mary ignored the calls she was getting from recruiters and other radio stations who knew her as a legend in new business development, but after a few months of Rick’s delays, Mary started to take those calls.

The end of the tale is obvious.  Rick was let go, but it was too late.  Mary was already gone.

The cost of keeping non-performers in their role too long is much higher than their salary and benefits.  You run the risk of turnover among your top performers who are the most likely to not put up with mediocrity.  You lower the standard of performance of everyone who interacts with the non-performer.  You risk losing customers.  You risk your brand.

So, why in the world do companies keep non-performers when there are so many reasons not to keep them?  There are two main reasons:

  1. No systems and processes in place to make the best hiring decisions
  2. No structured game plan to ramp up to a new hire fast

If you want to keep your top performers, raise your standards in both your hiring and onboarding practices.  Don’t settle for the best available person, aim for the best possible person to fill every role.  Don’t minimize the importance of getting new people up and running quickly, thoroughly and effectively.  If you want people to finish strong, you need to provide them with a solid foundation to build on.

Categories: Management & Leadership