In the final days at work last month, many people told me that the attrition rate at the company was quite high. Employees who have been there for more than a year are considered veterans.
I wondered about the reasons for the high attrition rate. It seems like it has been somewhat steady – not necessarily driven by developments within the company, but by an ever-present sense of dissatisfaction among the employees. It seems like they don’t feel as if they can trust the senior leaders in the company.
I thought about other times in my life when I’ve witnessed attrition. I think the first episode was what happened to our high school drill team when I was a senior.
When officer tryouts were held, some assumptions were made about who would be chosen for the top three. Certainly the girl who would be captain was a shoo-in.
Consequently, we were all floored when the results were announced. Not only was the expected captain not selected as captain, but a JUNIOR was selected for a top three position. Needless to say, these results caused a great deal of heartburn and divisiveness.
Our drill team – with more than 50 members – was extremely close-knit, and we worked hard all summer, fall, and winter – until the culmination of competition season around Spring Break. In August, we would practice together for 30 hours a week. During football season and competition season, we would practice together 15 hours a week.
Practices were led by the officers. Our director – a woman in her mid-twenties who had been a member of the same drill team when she attended our high school – was always present, but she typically issued directions to the officers, not to the entire team.
Leadership was key. Without the leadership of the officers, it was a free-for-all.
Appointing a captain who didn’t have the respect of the team and who didn’t function as a leader (harsh, but true) led to an attrition rate I never could have imagined. We held mid-year tryouts and allowed freshmen to participate (both completely without precedent) in order to get our numbers back up to a respectable range for competition.