Turnover is expensive. I’ve seen cost estimates range from 30% of a departing employee’s annual salary for an entry level position to as much as 400% for a high level or very specialized executive. Yowza! And it’s no longer a secret that (to make a sweeping generality) people tend to join companies but quit their boss. I don’t know about you but the combination of these two ideas draws me to a simple question, THE retention question:

Are you the boss the people you’re looking for are looking for?

Consultants, like myself, are exposed to a wide array of management approaches — some effective, some not so much. We also see subtle changes in the business vernacular that characterize emerging trends. A recent, troubling development is the widespread use of the term ‘Bosshole,’ typically seen in angry exit interviews. The Urban Dictionary can shed some light on this expression:

“Bosshole: an employer of a particularly evil nature, completely devoid of empathy or concern for anyone else.”

I’ll leave the root words of this hybrid to your imagination, but suffice it to say that “bossholes” are expensive! Their soul-crushing tactics tend to destroy whatever excitement was generated in the interviewing and on-boarding process or cause tenured staff to question the company’s sanity by allowing such a weasel to be in charge.

What do your people think of you? Everyone is not right for every position and sometimes people rise beyond their capabilities but the way we intervene will determine our “boss status.” There’s a simple test to make sure you don’t carry an offensive moniker. Whether or not we recognize it at a conscious level, we ask three questions of everyone that works for us. It’s important to know that our direct reports are watching us and drawing their own conclusions about the same three questions. An effective working relationship depends on “yes” answers to each one:

  • Can I trust you?
  • Do you care about me as a person or just for what I can do for you?
  • Are you committed to excellence?

Simple. No? Unless you’re a sociopath (a “bosshole” trait), you can’t fake these for long. “Yes” answers set you up as a “boss-of-choice,” one that attracts and retains the kind of people you’re trying to attract and retain. Keep in mind that as the boss, it’s up to you to make the first move. And how do you do that? I’ll dig into each question separately in future editions.