“Building a great team is the lifeblood of any startup, and finding great talent is one of the hardest and costliest tasks any CEO will ever face.” – Jay Samit
“Turnover costs are too high; we have to retain our employees!” shouted HR.
“If he can’t do the job, get rid of him and find someone who will!” shouted the executives, even more loudly.
The paradox of reducing voluntary attrition while holding a disposable workforce mentality catches many of us in a precarious position. Time and budgetary constraints never allow for enough training or development, and it’s tempting to use the sink-or-swim method of developing team members. When a new associate is struggling but was promising enough to be selected for your team, we have two options. We can plug someone else in the slot and hope for the best, or we can coach and develop that team member to help them reach their potential. As leaders, we have an obligation to provide our team members with the necessary tools for success.
If we think someone is too broken for their job duties, consider a little-known art form from Japan. Around the 15th century, the Japanese began mending cracked and shattered pottery in an exceptional fashion. The process is called kintsugi, which translates to “golden joinery.” The artisan infuses the cracks and tears with a lacquer laced with a precious metal—most often gold. At the end of the process, the vessel is both useful and a unique work of art. The philosophical motive behind kintsugi is that breakage and subsequent repair should not be disguised, but should tell the history of the object.
How different would our organizations be if we practiced kintsugi on our associates as the first option? How many hours is it worth trying to mend your broken vessels? Is the loss of output, interviewing, advertising costs, and disruption of team dynamics is worth a few hours of extra training? Turnover costs are difficult to fully pin down, but spending an hour or two each week with an underperforming team member is much cheaper than starting from scratch.
To Build Strong Teams, Build Strong Teammates: Accelerators
- List three areas of underperformance on your team or in your business right now.
- What are the common themes of the three areas of underperformance?
- How can you practice kintsugi to transform the situation in your business?
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Field Guide” and “The Top Performer’s Field Guide.” He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor and Innovation Junkie, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas. Jeff helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at InnovationJunkie.com.