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Culprits of Attrition

As a corporate recruitment and resourcing person, I am usually uncomfortable when companies roll-out changes to their performance appraisal system with policies that are untested, unproven and out of the norm. If a system works, let’s keep it. Let’s follow industry’s best practices. That’s what I’d do as a Talent Manager. Bottom-line to any work is the satisfaction, fulfilment, and most importantly financial rewards. What’s the point of being told you’ve done well when your salary remains the same for the last 2 years?

Recently, the company tried to maintain the attrition rate at 26%. I was flabbergasted at the rate they proposed because my previous clients and employers preferred anything below a 10%. So when the top officer implemented the ‘one-grade’ system, I was shocked beyond words. This system will assume every employee an AVERAGE worker. The senior management wanted to maintain a high percentage of AVERAGE workers by grading everyone a “3” on a “5” pointer scale.

If a manager decides that a staff is better than average, the manager needs to send a very strong justification to senior management to get it approved. If and unless the manager can cook up a ‘good story’ for the staff, the rest is history. When this plan was implemented performers were outraged. Those who worked harder than others taking up added responsibilities and bigger scope of work were immensely furious. Their colleagues who were entrusted with less and achieved less had the same score!

The salaries were frozen, bonuses cut and promotions made intensely difficult. This was a good reason for good people to find better employment.  In previous companies where I used to work, workers were appraised for their contribution, quality of work, attitude, interpersonal, initiative, service level, etc. Here in this company, all these attributes became next to nothing. If you covered your colleague and helped her as a team player during her time of need, you are still seen as the AVERAGE worker. No credit was given to team work, leadership, initiative and kindness.

Having worked in many corporations – some large enough to be reckoned as leaders in their industry, I am enormously shocked at what I call a ‘socialist’ grading system in this organisation. All equal unless proven different. For someone like me, I knew immediately this was a company with no future for me. I like to be rewarded for bringing value to the organisation by being a team player, coach, leader, and taking up additional role and responsibility which now have evaporated to nothingness. I now have to prove what I do has uniquely brought significant improvement to the organisation. This again is so subjective. If I meet all the stretched objectives, I am nothing but an average Joe. In summary, I’ve told management this is wrong but they told me I’m wrong. They say that ‘people who work hard should not be rewarded because it’s a sign of inefficiency’. I told them there are two classes of hard-working people. One group who values the learning experience of added responsibilities and willing to go the extra mile to ensure things do not fall as a result of laggards or irresponsible team mates. Another group that is genuinely unproductive. If the management doesn’t differentiate the two, then there is seriously something lacking.

In the last 2 days after the performance grade is announced, people have come to me with complaints. People who think they have contributed more than others told me that they will now switch to the average Joe because if that’s what the company thinks, then that’s what the company gets. If a company offers no future to those who go the extra mile to hold things together for their team, then the company does not deserve them. It’s only right for them to move on to other organisations instead of punishing themselves to perform below par. I trust there will be truck loads of resignations from the genuinely good and sincere workers. The laggards will definitely stay cause they know they can get away with this ‘socialist’ grading system. Such a pity… really. Does the management know what they’re doing? It baffles me.


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