Solving turnover problems for pattern

To get the hang of solving problems for pattern, I'll offer several examples in the near term. The first is the organic problem of increasing employee turnover after a bad solution has been applied. Here's an inorganic look at the problem for starters:

A enterprise employs a variety of employees. The most valued take a lot of initiative to identify and solve problems. They see what's not working and take personal and collective responsibility to make effective changes. They are largely motivated by intrinsic rewards. They appreciate getting the carrots off the table. These employees contrast with two other types which are both motivated almost exclusively by extrinsic rewards. Some lack initiative and wait to be told to address problems they would rather ignore, endure in silence or dump onto others. The remaining make a show of taking initiative but fail to follow through or deliver on the high expectations they've raised.

The enterprise recently increased pay and benefits for those who merit the rewards by consistently taking initiative and solving problems on their own. This solution backfired resulting in increased turnover of the intrinsically motivated employees. Meanwhile their replacements were extrinsically motivated and much less valuable.

Any organic diagnosis of the problem identifies very different facets of the situation. The intrinsically motivated problem solvers had already identified problems with turnover, misdiagnoses of the turnover problem and ineffective decisions about increasing rewards. Their inclinations to take initiative and solve those problems were frustrated for the same reasons the identified problems persisted. The subsequent increase in extrinsic rewards signaled a deterioration of the situation, greater adversity in preserving their intrinsic motivations, and more reasons to depart company. When asked by colleagues considering the possibility of applying for the resulting job openings, they would be advised to "stay away from that job from hell".

An organic solution would reverse the dynamics that accelerated the churn of the most valuable employees. The recent merit pay increase could be withdrawn to discourage the further influx of extrinsically motivated hires. The problems of turnover, diagnoses and rewards could then be discussed openly. Those inclined to take initiative could join in the design explorations if motivated to do so intrinsically. Those who participate would become rewarded by the inherent challenges, respect, trust and inclusion. This process would end up defining many other problems which could be addressed the same way, increasing the intrinsic rewards as progress was made. This organic solution would take on a life of its own and provide the experiences that typically accompany solving for pattern.

1 comment:

  1. Tom, Good Post! On the topic of collective responsibility, you might want to listen to the podcast of Vineet Nayar on Dan Mulhern radio show.
    He shared a lot of interesting unique new concepts of collective responsibility and implementation results for 55000 employees.