Benefits and Compensation

#1 Mistake Managers Make that Makes Great People Quit

A Players Don’t Have to Play on B Teams

Kleiman uses baseball analogies for clues about why managers lose A players: A players never have to play on a B team, he says. And they don’t want to play with B or C players.

That makes for problems when A players’ managers retain poor performers, Kleiman says. The A players are watching, and if B- or C-level performance is acceptable, the A players are thinking, “It’s time to leave.”

If you get rid of a few at the bottom, the rest will improve, says Kleiman (online at, whose remarks came at BLR’s Strategic HR Summit, held recently in Scottsdale, Arizona.

There’s a second problem associated with C players, says Kleiman. If you keep C players around, both HR managers and line managers spend most of their time at the bottom of the heap, dealing with turkeys, when what they should be doing is spending their time at the top with the A players. (If we had no turkeys, how easy our job would be, Kleiman quips.)

And, of course, the third problem with C players is that teams don’t win with C players, Kleiman says.

Who Are You Letting in the Door?

Sam Walton said that the most important decision managers make is “who they allow in the door,” says Kleiman. The problem is that most hiring managers try to pick the best applicant. That’s a mistake, says Kleiman.  If you focus on the best applicants, you’ll hire great applicants, but they may well be turkeys as employees, he says, and turkeys are hard to get rid of.

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Keeping A Players

How about the employee’s first day? You know that when each employee gets home, someone is going to ask, “How did the first day go?” You’d like them to say, “It was the best day.” However, says Kleiman, most managers don’t pay that much attention to the first day. How much effort are you putting out to plan a great first day for each new hire? Kleiman asks.

How about stay interviews? Why wait until good people leave to have an interview with them about their experiences at your organization? Have regular stay interviews instead, says Kleiman.  Meet with your best employees, and ask:

  • Why do you work here?
  • What would make you leave?
  • What can I/we do to make your job better?

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1 thought on “#1 Mistake Managers Make that Makes Great People Quit”

  1. I’ve seen it firsthand, unfortunately–the best workers get frustrated with the perceived coddling of the subpar performers who are kept around forever and end up seeking greener pastures. They assume there’s something wrong with a place that keeps poor performers around.

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