Managers who are disempowering, out of touch with their subordinates and aloof to the goals and aspirations of the people around them are an unfortunate fact of business life. In big companies the role of HR seems to be to assure that such dismal management is universal. How else can we explain the apparent popularity of employee retention analytics software? Yeah … you read that right – ‘employee retention analytics software’.
The article on this particular form of (mis)management in the Wall Street Journal reads like a script from the Gong Show:
“At Credit Suisse, managers’ performance and team size turn out to be surprisingly powerful influences, with a spike in attrition among employees working on large teams with low-rated managers.” No kidding? People who work for crappy bosses tend to quit? Who, exactly, was surprised by this “surprisingly powerful” relationship?
Over at Micron Technology, “ ‘It’s very delicate how you approach things,’ says Timothy Long, the company’s director of workforce analytics and systems. ‘The idea is to determine, what can we do to get [people] to stay?’ ” Shouldn’t be too hard to figure out Tim. How about if you stop laying folks off by the busload every time the wind blows in a direction Micron technology doesn’t like – “despite the companies seemingly good financial health”.
Over at Credit Suisse it also seemed to come as quite a revelation to them that folks actually wanted to be considered for promotions and new job opportunities. “Some 300 people have been promoted through the internal program; many of those people, Mr. Wolf says, might have left otherwise. ‘We believe we’ve saved a number of them from taking jobs at other banks.’ ”
At AOL they actually have a guy whose job title is “director of people analytics”; and therein lies the heart of the problem. “People analytics” Hard to see how the big company religion of managing by the numbers and viewing people as headcount numbers rather than as the unique, whole human being a person actually is can be writ any larger than by creating a job titled “director of people analytics”.
People leave because they work for managers who could care less about them. They leave because they realize the company has no loyalty to them and couldn’t care less about their ideas, dreams and goals. People leave because they get sick and tired of being a number and having every moment spent on the job governed by corporate policies rather than common sense. In short, they leave because the senior folks running the place are lousy managers and lousy leaders.
This stuff really isn’t that complicated. Micron Technology decimates the families of half its employees in Idaho and Italy, then wonders why people don’t want to be part of the team that does that sort of thing? Credit Suisse doesn’t offer the chance for promotion to people and wonders why they would rather work elsewhere? And AOL doesn’t realize that centuries of “people analytics” have solved the mystery of human behavior: The Golden Rule.
My guess is that the folks at the top of Credit Suisse got the top job by promotion – they might want to consider the notion that the rest of the people at the bank might like a promotion too. They ought to arbitrarily layoff half the executives at Micron Technology even though profits are good just to make the headcount figures sweeter, and see if some of the remaining executives don't jump ship and decide to switch employers before they get nailed in the next such arbitrary blow to people’s families. And the director of employee analytics ought to get jerked around by a computer, rather than a human boss, for a while just to see how he likes it. It shouldn’t take long for them to see light.