Monday, March 19, 2012


This week we want to continue on with the subject of training and the pitfalls of not doing it. As we stated last week, in this session we want to discuss the 5 major reasons why employees quit.

1. NOBODY TOLD ME WHAT TO DO---This is not to be confused with "nobody trained me on what to do". This goes deeper to the root of the problem. This says that when the employee was hired, they were told something like, "Go to the building and do janitorial work, you'll find everything you need in the closet". That's about the same as in an interview asking the employee about their experience and having them tell you they vacuum their house once a week and take the trash to the curb every Thursday so we all agree that must qualify them for the job.

What about your company? What do you say to your new recruit that you just invested hundreds of dollars in to find, interview, and put on the payroll?

2. NOBODY EVER COMPLIMENTS ME---This reason should come as no surprise. People working in the service business usually only hear about something when there is a problem. What about you? Is the only time you communicate with your staff is when there is a problem?

In the building service business, the usual procedure is for the supervisor or manager to come to work and ask the question, "Any complaints today? What problems am I going to face tonight? Who isn't coming to work this evening? How many people won't come to work tonight and not even call in"? Sound familiar?

Let me ask you, When was the last time you went to work and made a conscious effort to compliment your staff on a job well done? Today? Yesterday? Last week? Never? It's a jungle out there. True, but the compliment you give your employees today or tonight may be the only good thing they hear today. They may have spent the entire day fighting off creditors or arguing with a spouse or child. Try giving a compliment, you'll like it and so will they.

Why not create a file of your employee's birthday and the anniversary date of their employment and make a conscious effort to call them or stop by their work station on those important dates and congratulate them.

I know of managers and supervisors who will pick up pizza on a Friday night and deliver it to a crew if they have gone a period of time without a complaint or no one was absent etc. Create your own reason for doing something like this. By the way, stay and enjoy the pizza with them. Amazing what it will do for strengthening your relationship with them.

3. THERE DOESN'T APPEAR TO BE ANY ROOM FOR ADVANCEMENT--This reason is really interesting. At the time your employee is leaving your company because there is no place to advance, the employer is shouting to the world, "I can't find any good supervisors and managers". Sound familiar?

In my job as a consultant to many companies I get asked frequently if I know of any good managers etc. anywhere in the country. Most of the time I can answer yes, in your own company. They really are there most of the time. We just need to locate them and then give them the training and opportunity to succeed.

The current supervisors will generally tell you that they have no one to promote because if they give you one of their good people, that means they have to go to work and train a replacement. Bummer. They have their building running smooth and don't want to have to work harder so the answer is you have to dig deeper and become more familiar with the second level management. In my book, Finding, Training and Keeping GREAT Service employees, (available on my web site) I go into detail on how we developed that next level of supervison and created a stable of available site managers. Just as importantly, we had fun doing it and got to know a lot of good people.

4. NOBODY TRAINED ME--This reason is a continuation of the first one where they said nobody told me what to do. When I talk training, I am not talking where someone is hired and then sent out with a current employee to "learn the ropes". These may be the very ropes you want to get rid of. That current employee may only show them a series of WRONG ways of doing what it is you want done. My philosophy is ON THE JOB TRAINING ONLY IS A RECIPE FOR ON THE JOB FAILURE.

I know of many companies who justify on the job training by saying they want the new employee to see how it is really done out in the field. In many cases, that's the problem. It's being done WRONG out in the field and if you don't have a formal, written training program you only amplify the problem by sending out new employees to learn how to hang themselves with that rope you are needing to get rid of.

Create a training program, commit the resources to it and make it happen asap. You WILL see positive results.

I know of and have worked with companies where we have focused their efforts on these 4 of the 5 issues and have seen turnover rates go from 325% down to as low as 40%. Most settle in at about the 75% number. To a company such as a law firm or accounting firm that number will seem high, but if you are in the Building Service Contracting business, having a 40%-75% turnover rate is real progress in the grand scope of things.

5. BENEFITS/PAY--I fully understand that benefits and pay are very important issues and I have always tried to keep them in focus as well as the first four. The reality is this...many times service employment such as contract cleaning, food service, retail clerks and similar positions are considered entry level positions and benefits and pay will always be an issue UNTIL staff members are trained to a point that they can move up the ladder and make a career of it. Career opportunities abound in our service sector but we need to tell the story and make the commitment to recruit and train a primary focus of our individual company's growth. The GREAT people are there, we have the responsibility to recruit, train and keep them.

In the meantime, I tried my best, not always successfully , to be at the top end of the pay scale for the positions I had in my company. We tried to be sure that if someone committed to our industry as their career, we would be near the top in pay and benefits. You always want to put yourself in the position of having the best trained and compensated people. Believe me, this will pay dividends in the long run. Remember we are offering careers, not just jobs.

Hopefully this information has been helpful to you. There is so much to say on this subject and I am very passionate about recruiting and training and keeping GREAT employees that I could go on writing forever but you probably don't want to go on reading forever. (Hopefully you made it this far).

A couple of final points,

In May, BSCAI will be holding their annual Executive seminar in Scottsdale Arizona. I want to encourage you to attend if at all possible. I plan to be there. If you go, come up and introduce yourself. Would love to meet you.

The second thing is don't forget our weekly free podcast at Many are video and audio and you can sign up to get a notification every time we post a new podcast.

Until next time.

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