Organizations Bleeding Out (The Unknown Loss)

Paying Folks to Learn and Leave

It is easy to talk about statistics and point out numbers associated with employee turnover.  It isn’t easy for organizations to quantify what the turn over actually is costing.   Human resource information systems exist that can provide some numbers but those are numbers are essentially an average range.   That doesn’t give anyone a good idea of what is really going on.  It is just a number or set of numbers.    What does that mean?

I started working for Lockheed Martin in 2004, fresh out of working in a school division.  I was ready to learn, grow and take on the world.   Lockheed Martin was vast corporate mountain to climb chock full of options and opportunity.  As soon as I got on board, I immediately took to going back to school full time.  Lockheed had a tuition reimbursement program like a lot of other big companies.  All I needed to do was keep a “B” average and they would pay 100% of my tuition.   I had great ideas (actually it was the beginning of the 8 ideas a day) that I wanted to share with LM.

My management was very supportive and encouraging, in fact at the time my manager was doing the exact same thing!  One of the line managers would pull me to the side all the time and tell me to “get my education and get out as soon as I can.”

You should know the end of this story by now.   I gained valuable experience, I gained education and I became known to an industry that previously didn’t have a clue I existed.

The estimated cost to Lockheed Martin was $75,000, I would say the real cost to Lockheed was somewhere in the millions of dollars range.

National Labor Turnover Rates

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate for separations in June 2011 was 3.1 percent. The separation rate includes employees who voluntarily quit a position, layoffs, retirements and discharges. While the rate of employee turnover did not change significantly from May 2011, the rate for June of 2010 was 2 percent.

Industry Turnover Rates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports labor turnover rates according to industry and shows a 6.9 percent turnover for employees working in the construction industry in June 2011, which experienced the highest level of employee turnover. Government agencies and employers experienced the lowest level of employee turnover, with a 1.4 percent labor turnover rate. Employers in the arts, recreation and entertainment industry show a 5.4 percent turnover of labor during the same month.

National Quit Rate

The percentage of workers who quit a position in June 2011 in private industry was 1.7 percent. Government agencies experienced a 0.5 percent rate of employees quitting a position during the same period. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the finance and insurance industries as well as government employers showed a decline in the number of quits in June 2011 while the education industry showed an increase.

Retention Rate Calculation

The employee retention rate can indicate how well your business maintains employee satisfaction. To calculate the employee retention rate, start with the total number of employees on staff at the end of a period — monthly, quarterly or annually. For example, if you have 200 employees at the end of a quarter, and 25 of those employees left the business during the same quarter, subtract 25 from 200. Divide the result by the total number of employees, and multiply the answer by 100 to get the retention rate. In the example, the employee retention rate is 87.5 percent. Compare the retention rate in one period to the rate in other periods for an indication of how well you are retaining your employees.

(Source) http://smallbusiness.chron.com/average-employee-retention-rate-18799.html

The Value of Tacit

It would be inappropriate for me to discuss the details as to why LM lost out on millions of dollars because of my leaving.  What I can say is that my situation is not unusual. Companies are losing this kind of talent and money all the time and they just don’t realize it.   When organizations calculate “total value” or “total rewards” for benefits or costs of an employee they are not reversing those calculations and looking at how much the employee is of value to the organization.  They don’t do this because they don’t know how much a function or a capability from a role is worth.  They don’t do this because a lot of times they don’t know what their employees do.   That’s right!! I said it… they don’t know what their people actually do! 

Human resources can track the job title, role, responsibilities and costs of human capital but there is generally no feedback from an employee assessment back to the HR information system that updates the system to tell what the employee is actually doing.  In fact, it is likely that in a lot of cases when a leader or manager is asked what their people do, they have to inquire themselves first.   If you don’t know what they do and you don’t know how much they are worth to an organization how could you let them go?  If you let them go, how much did it cost the organization to lose them?   I am not talking about “employee potential value”, I am talking about “Employee REAL Value.”

Food for Thought

If you are an organizational leader, can you say that you know how much any one individual in your organization is valued or of value to the organization?  Do you have a measure for this?  Certainly you may feel that YOU are of value to the organization.. right?  How much are you worth (not in dollars earned for you) but in REAL dollar value to your organization?   How much would your company stand to lose if you train someone for a few years and they get up to speed and become an expert in their field, get educated both paper and organic and decide to walk?   How much have you already lost because you didn’t know this information?    It seems to me that the newer generations are less loyal to any one company and that they will be willing to bounce from place to place as they see fit, how much will this behavior cost in the future as tacit information becomes more of a premium?

The Final Point on the UNKNOWN VALUE OF..

http://www.npr.org/2013/06/19/184827651/animal-csi-inside-the-smithsonians-feather-forensics-lab

Carla Dove is a forensic ornithologist, the last one…. If you read the article above you can get more details but the bottom line is

Dove’s keen eye and knowledge of feathers have come from more than two decades of practice. She’s the only person in the country with these skills, and she worries about the future of this kind of analysis.

“Unless I have someone to follow me around, and do some research on the microscopic structure of feathers, I think that one of these days the whole expertise in this field is going to go away,” she says. These days, she says, students are more interested in “instant satisfaction” and cutting-edge technology.

Dove inherited her lab from the only other U.S. scientist to do this work: Laybourne, who was already in her 80s.

Dove says she has yet to find the person who will take over when she retires — the special ornithologist who can continue the work in this unusual feather forensics lab.

We don’t know (or even attempt) to measure the value of certain areas of our work.  In this case,  there is no Carla Dove men-tee.  Maybe we will get lucky and she will find someone to follow in her footsteps or maybe her tacit knowledge will go the way of the lost tribes.  Regardless, ignorance is costly and introduces previously mitigated risk and loss.

Angry and Disconnected

Increasingly we are disconnected.

It is as simple as that and as complicated as that.  We are disconnected from each other.  The relationships that we have are finely strung interwoven webs of very fragile connections.   The connections are fragile because of all of the miscommunication.  Even when we stand in front of each other today and talk person to person we are still communicating less effectively than we did years ago.

People in all walks of business are becoming more increasingly angry and frustrated and as a friend puts it we are all suffering from some form of “disaster fatigue.”   As I watched the news last night, and we wrapped up and closed the latest great tragedy that will surely get a name and a conspiracy theory assigned to it, I was troubled by the thought that all we seek is closure (quickly).   After 4 days and exhaustive efforts and incredible detective work, it is finally over.  Oh thank G-d it is over! Now we can move onto the next great tragedy and forget about this one unless we want to make some great point in a position paper or argument.  The media is disgusting at times.   There is no such thing as journalist integrity anymore, shame on them.  Shame on us too, because we watch it and we let them entertain us with their constant barrage of tragedy and despair.  They keep us on the edge of our seats and then wrap up people’s lives like it is a novel.

I most appreciated and still have the images of the “experts” smiling as they discussed this case and the situation.   I am not being too sensitive, the world is no longer sensitive enough.  It is desensitized and disconnected.   We are turning into a culture of racing changes and closure.  It is as if in our lives we are rocks that are being skimmed across a pond.   Every surface contact is the experience of a major event or situation only to end sunken and somewhere.

It isn’t as if humanity is new or that we haven’t experienced changes or tragedy in the history of our world.  It seems as if there is just more for us individually to consume at a faster rate and more knowledge to handle in multiple levels of thought and conscience.  It is overloading people on an individual level.  What happens is they effectively shut off noise.   Noise may be important but can’t be handled.   It takes time to deal with noise and we have no time.

When you walk into your bosses office and you ask to talk to him or her and they are reading their email or texting or doing something else other than paying attention to what you have to say, it becomes personal to you but isn’t to them, they are simply filtering.   The problem is that this is our world.  This is what we are morphing into.  A noisy place with no time to think and no time to listen.  We get less than half of a story and it needs to close so that we can move on to another story.

When Martin Richard, 8, Dorchester, Massachusetts was murdered in cold blood by the senseless act of these young men in Boston, will you remember Martin next week?   For his family,  my heart hurts today.  It is true that my heart hurt yesterday for the senseless Newtown killings but as far as we are concerned (mostly) it is over and behind us.  How many of the children do you remember?  How many were killed?  What were their names?  Do you know? What about 911? How many were killed?  What were their names?  Time heals all wounds except the ones that are everlasting. The everlasting wounds that run deep in the families of those who have lost or the left over feelings that are underlying in our hearts.  The undertone of despair and sadness that we carry with us.   Only to be added onto by the next tragedy and the next and the next.  Never forget, always remember but if you do forget in your mind, you may not forget in your heart.  What do we do when we feel so much?  We disconnect so that we don’t have to feel.  We don’t need our tears anymore because we don’t have the capacity to manage all of our feeling input and we have nothing left in our emotional tanks that would allow us to cry.  Although there are times when someone is close enough to us that we will be compelled by overwhelming emotion to feel.  We are mostly.. away.

The only point I will add here is that this behavior and situation impacts us at work beyond the obvious.  Since we are failing to communicate effectively, we are augmenting our communication with explicit and highly technical surrogates.   One of my areas of work and great concern is Knowledge Management.   Why is KM one of the top concerns of leadership around the globe today?   Because knowledge is happening faster and change is happening faster and everything is happening faster.   The demands for fast and short term solutions and short term thinking and short term closure of issues is driving organizations around the world to dismiss the criticality of the long term and strategic thinking.   This speed need is creating demand for the 15 minute manager, the short term rockstar, the idol (American) or other.  The quick win.  Snatching the bird from the hand and forgetting that there are a few in the bush.  Lack of patience, lack of quality, lack of service, lack of value, lack of kindness and other mass effects.

 

Lack of connection… lack of a real true connection.  The ultimate result is that there is no trust.  No trust = failure.


How Many Know Me?inmap

How many know me? My passion, my hopes, my dreams?  How many know my intent?  How many trust me?  I am connected.. I am connected digitally to a lot of people.  I don’t even know a number to tell you but let us say a lot.

So, as I said in the beginning it is simple and simply complicated.   It is not about unplugging ourselves and disconnecting from the world.  It is about taking steps to engage and listen to the noise and to turn it off when someone is standing in front of us.  It is about, responding to those who reach out to us and building trust where we can and when it makes sense.  It is about love and looking for small simple small acts of kindness within ourselves without any measurable expectations.

 We need to manage our connections and make time to disconnect.  We certainly can’t hold the world in our hands but we can grab a piece of the world when we need it, put it back on the shelf when we don’t and trust that the rest is beyond us.

Dispatches from the Front: 21 November 2012 **Thanksgiving Edition**

Dispatches from the Front: 21 November 2012

Friends,

I am sorry I have not sent any Dispatches since September.  You have no
idea how these Green of Blue incidents has affected our assessment work.
There have been many long days and nights required to bring some
understanding to this phenomena.  The answer lies is an education of
Islam.  Over whisky upon my return I will gladly tell you the
unclassified aspects of what was recognized and how it has caused such a
conundrum. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  It has always been one of my most favorite
holidays.  I associate Thanksgiving with dinner at my Grandma’s.  Often,
I would bird hunt in the morning and afternoon.  Always arriving in
plenty of time to meet up with Uncle Pike, the only Marine in my family
until I came along.  He was a WWII Marine, participated in the invasion
of Tarawa, Tinian and Okinawa.  He and I would exchange USMC stories as
he taught me how to carve the ham and turkey in the kitchen.  The food I
remember was the finest I have ever eaten.  The candied yams, yeast
rolls, vegetables, meats, desserts, all beyond anything I have had
since.  Regardless how crowed, there was always room and an abundance of
food.  All things a man had reason be very thankful.  I hope each of you
have a great Thanksgiving.  Mine will be another work day with the mess
hall preparing a meal the best they can, but knowing they will fall
short.

These are interesting times.  Regardless where you are in life, you have
got to be excited by what is going on around you every day whether you
want to recognize it or not.  The bias news reporters are masters of
propaganda and pushing their own agendas.  Have you ever noticed how
pompous and arrogant they all are?  Pundits of misinformation are a more
realistic description of their performances.  I will purposely stay away
from world events of which I know little about.  However, I do know
something about war and this current one we are now fighting, every day
and every night while you are awake as well as when you are asleep.
There are no weekend breaks and none of those involved stop to enjoy
holidays or relaxing meals.  Sleep without interruption is a pleasure
far removed as rockets and mortars fall. As of 20 Nov, I have attended
39 Fallen Hero ceremonies which consisted of 69 flag draped caskets.  I
have survived 22 rocket and mortar attacks on this compound since I have
arrived.  The Taliban are becoming better shots.  They unfortunately
have succeeded in several KIAs and WIAs as well as aircraft destruction.
The closest a round landed from me was 150 yards away.  It ruins your
sleep for that night when they explode so nearby.       

What a fine mess we find ourselves in a place called Afghanistan.
Wasn’t it written somewhere that those who do not study history are
doomed to repeat it?  I am afraid history will prove this Dispatch
correct.  Afghanistan is an easy place to invade, set up governments,
and declare victory. But to control the will of the collective Afghan
tribes has never in all recorded time been successfully accomplished. 
The current and past events of Afghanistan remind me of my reading back
at VMI from Thucydides: “the powerful exact what they can and the weak
grant what they must.”   

Alexander the Great during the winter of 329-328 B.C. realized in Balkh,
northern Afghanistan, he was in constant combat against enemies who
would not quit, and for what? He would win every skirmish against the
mountain tribal warriors, and another bare fridge mountain top would be
his but at a cost.  By the way, there is snow on the mountains again.

Genghis Khan came through in 1221 AD.  His hordes had no desire to
control these lands, only to destroy all that was in their path.  They
accomplished that remarkably well along the natural invasion routes but
never succeeded to conquering the numerous mountain tribes.  It was not
because he could not.  It was not worth the effort. 

Smaller invasions and limited conquests were recorded but nothing like
the scale of the First Anglo-Afghan War, Auckland’s Folly, of 1839 to
1842.

The English were the best examples of foolishness in these strange
bellicose and belligerent lands. To prevent the spread of Russian
imperialism into India, the glorious British Imperialist of the East
India Company, convinced the Crown to send the Grand Army of the Indus
to repel the Czar’s threat.  The British even brought with them their
own exiled Afghan king, Shah Shuja, to run the country for them.  On
April 25, 1839, the army reached Kandahar, (a miserable dusty place I do
say so myself after spending time there.) What the British did not
realize is the incredible patience of the Afghan people.  Their
occupation was much like owning a viper as a pet, you can feed the snake
the finest rats and provide it improved living conditions; but the viper
will lie in wait and when opportunity presents itself, will always
strike to kill.   In January 1842, the entire British garrison, 15,000,
(minus Capt Thomas Souter, who by wrapping the regimental colours around
himself was taken prisoner, being mistaken by the Afghans as a high
military official and Surgeon William Brydon) was lost to the “ghazis”
religious warriors who put aside tribal differences for the greater
purpose of evicting infidels from who once again threaten their lands
and the Hindu Kush mountain range.  The puppet king was assassinated
shortly thereafter.  An aside note; from the antique shops in Kabul, I
have obtained an original Khyber long knife, an original Karud dagger
and a Jezail musket used against the British of that time.  They are
wicked but efficient tools of war.

The British could not accept such a defeat and the wives and children of
the Grand Army were still captives of Akbar Khan the warlord who kicked
their royal asses and took their women and children.  From what I can
read, Akbar Khan was benevolent and did not harm his captives.  The
British returned later that fall, in force, paid off the Afghan in
charge of the British hostages, burned down a market place in Kabul, and
got the hell out to never return in force.

Years slowly passed.  Afghanistan remained tribal, segregated, did not
progress and remained in a medieval state suspended in time regardless
of intervention from either the outside or from within.  The book, The
Story of the Malakand Field Force by Winston Churchill is a fascinating
read.  Although written over a hundred years ago, the book portrays the
belligerent nature of the mountainous country now infested with Taliban
fighters. Churchill’s views captured what was before, then and
frightfully, now. 

Then there was Christmas Eve, 1979.  The Russians decided it was time to
revenge the Czar (not really) and establish a strategic communist
foothold amongst this collection of ethnic tribes called Afghanistan.
Their invasion was fast, furious and successful.  They too set up their
own puppet communist president. 

Things were more sophisticated then.  The Afghan population was almost
17 million and 90% were illiterate and 85% subsisted in the countryside
as farmers, herders, or small community dwellers.  This is an important
point.  That was 33 year ago.  I was a young 1st Lieutenant stationed in
Okinawa, Japan. Even back then I was told and understood the average
Afghan paid less heed to the edicts from Kabul than to the words of his
local mullah or tribal chief.  How much do you think has changed
culturally in only 33 years?  I am convinced, based on reading of
history and personal observations, after centuries of existence as the
crossroads of Asia, the innate strength of Afghanistan is not with its
urban population along the main roads, which takes the brunt of
invasions and occupations, but with its people in the hills who have
always remained attached to individual freedom and defiant of foreign
powers.  Once again, an invasion by a foreign military force as mighty
as the USSR unified the mountain tribal leaders that cut across ethnic,
geographic, and economic lines. The mujahideen or “soldiers of God”
stood between the Soviet might and domination of Afghanistan.  By the
way, there are worlds of difference between the Mujahideen and the
Taliban.  The Mujahideen were basically “good guys” or least a group of
fighters our CIA could work with.  The Taliban are just evil bastards
that need killing.  Even as a 1st Lieutenant, I remember the mujahideen
relied on the two oldest tactics of warfare: the raid and the ambush.
General Braddock endured a similar tactics back in July 1775 during our
French and Indian War.  Ten years later, in Feb 1989, the Soviets
withdrew.  It is recorded that the Soviet 40th Army lost 13,883 dead
during the war. In Kiev, Ukraine, I visited the monument and Internal
Flame lit in honor of their losses.  As with the British, the Soviet
installed Afghan communist president was shortly assassinated. 

So from my perspective, the score card is:

325 BC: Afghans vs. Greeks
1221 AD: Afghan vs. Mongols
1842 AD: Afghan vs. British
1979 AD: Afghan vs. Soviet Union
2001 AD: Afghan vs. United States and ISAF 

Afghan: 4 – World Superpowers: 0
Current conflict continues.  I have my own predictions. 

That is enough of my ramblings just prior to Thanksgiving.  There is
turkey be consumed and precious time to be spent to loved ones.

I wish you each a very Happy Thanksgiving.  You and I have much to be
thankful.  I am thankful I will leave this place one day.  I am afraid
the Afghanistan people I have gotten to know and work with these past
months have a difficult future ahead of them. 

Semper Fidelis,
Ken

Being Realistic looks like Pessimism

Is the glass half empty?

Is the glass half full?

Some friend you are.. calling me a pessimist..  I think of myself as a person who is realistic.

The glass is always full, just not full of what you want or expect.

Walk around in a bubble and you are bound to see the world from your own 360 degree perspective.  This doesn’t really reflect what is truly going on in THE world, just YOUR world.  It is shame really when you think about how business is today. Long gone are the days when you trust anyone.  I second guess almost everything because I have a hard time with trust.   I can trust but let us say I am cautious about it at this point.   It is kind of sad because growing up in Co-op City in the Bronx, I could trust people.  Of course we had our challenges but the only people that would steal from you would be the kids taking your lunch money.   Business people, every day people had honor.

That is what this is about.  You have a code?  Do you honestly care about your business or the people working for you or with you?   We don’t trust each other but you give all sorts of content to Facebook.   We don’t seem to trust each other but Amazon wants you to trust them with your business.  The truth is that we are being robbed and that is just real.   We are losing ourselves in text and media.  We are losing our honor and our ability to treat each other with kindness.  We don’t trust each other and we have to find a way back to that.   We have to find ways to trust each other and build trusted partnerships.  We also have to realize that we are being robbed.

How can we trust each other or learn to trust each other?

It seems to me that businesses need to start talking about trust and honoring their word.

  • We need to start practicing honest behaviors and proving ourselves as honorable people.
  • We need to define and follow up on a code of ethics and actually mean what we say.
  • We need to start communicating better and we need to start this by active listening.

This is our world today.

The WheelBarrel Story

There are many variations to this story.  I have seen a lot of churches use this in their literature but it isn’t religious.

There once was a man who worked at a factory. He worked at this factory for 30 years. And
about 20 years into his time there, the owners of the factory decided that the workers were
stealing things, so they set up guards at the gate to check all the workers every day as they left.
And every evening for those 10 years, five nights a week, this guy walked through those gates,
trundling his wheelbarrow, and the guards could see, every evening, that the wheelbarrow was
empty. They checked his pockets and all. They were sure that this guy wasn’t stealing anything.
Finally he retired, and the next week one of his co-workers commented as he left the factory,
“Well, we’ll see a lot less theft now that he’s gone.”
“Why? What was he stealing?” the guard demanded.
The co-worker grinned: “Wheelbarrows.”

Where are your wheelbarrows going? 

Just a thought..