High Turnover – A Direct Result of Poor Leadership?

Leigh Branham, Founder of Keeping the People, Inc., as reported by Business & Legal Reports, listed the “Hidden Reasons” employees leave.  While it can be argued that all of the listed reasons have to do with leadership, three are directly related to poor leadership:

  • Little or no feedback/coaching
  • Feel devalued and unrecognized
  • Lack of trust or confidence in leaders

Given the widely-recognized cost of high levels of employee turnover, every club should be vigilant for the causes of turnover; but how best to do this?

First, to be aware of turnover, clubs should benchmark their personnel actions and turnover rate by department.  Employees depart for one of the following reasons:

  1. Discharged for cause – misconduct or performance issues
  2. Laid off for business reasons – either at the end of the busy season or downsizing
  3. Voluntary quit or abandonment of position
  4. Retirement

In benchmarking turnover, it is category #3, the voluntary quits, that warrant the closest scrutiny.  If a particular department seems an endless revolving door for employees, it bears looking into the reasons.  There are two primary ways to find out why.

One is a routine program of exit interviews by the HR Manager.  Basic inquiries during the interview should be, “Why are you leaving our employ?  Is there anything we could do to change your mind?  Tell us about your work experience while working here.”

A second method is for the General Manager to call several of the departing employees to inquire about their reasons for leaving.

Typical responses would be “returning to school,” “leaving for a better paying position,” “lack of benefits,” and “too much evening/weekend work.”  Sometimes the answer is an honest and direct, “Didn’t like my boss” or some variation thereof.  In any case, the General Manager should be concerned about any trending reasons for departure.  If it’s low wages and lack of benefits, it might prompt a review of prevailing wages and benefits with the view of improving one’s own.

If it’s problems with the boss, and the complaint is heard with any regularity, it may be time for the General Manager to coach a department head on his or her style of leadership, communication skills, and engagement with staff.  Just as the General Manager would be expected to intervene in any matter affecting the club’s performance and bottom line, high levels of turnover caused by poor leadership skills in one department or another cannot be tolerated.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

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