good turnover and bad turnover

Goodbyes: Good turnover and Bad turnover

What’s the difference between good turnover and bad turnover?

I hate goodbyes. From that first time as a fourth grader when my best friends moved away to another city. Or this year when we lost amazing employees to new facilities. Or sending an animal I’ve fallen in love with away to another facility. It doesn’t matter.

I hate goodbyes. 

Saying goodbye is never fun. Goodbye is loss. Loss of a friendship or a good employee. You might lose someone to talk to or the person who actually gets what you’re saying. You might have to say good bye to the person who understands where you’re coming from. The person who is on the same page. Saying goodbye means you’re losing something. Something’s going away.

I have two modes when I’m saying goodbye: one is extremely huge lavish and extravagant. Parties, gifts, special last days. I used to have the energy for that kind of goodbye, but each time I have to say goodbye to a teammate a little piece of me leaves with them. Now my mode is avoidance and denial, because I’ve had to say goodbye to so many of my coworkers and friends. 

Goodbye for leaders

As a leader loss has a little extra painful sting to it. We have all read the article or the headline “employees don’t leave their jobs, they leave bad bosses.” For me when employees are leaving, it’s very difficult not to take the sting of failure out of the goodbye. 

Sometimes it has been 100% my fault. Either because I failed to coach them in the way they needed, or because I didn’t lead them the way they envisioned. At least three times it’s because I didn’t live up to their expectations. And a few times it was because they didn’t live up to mine. There’s been as many reasons to say goodbye as there have been goodbyes. Usually it’s because I’m not meeting their needs in enough of these areas.

Good turnover and bad turnover

But an old manager of mine reminded me once that there’s good turnover and bad turnover. Bad turnover is when good employees are leaving because management is bad. Then there’s turnover when employees are leaving because management is good. They’ve given them the tools they need to succeed at a new facility at a new position and a new step in their career. Or good turnover exists when an employee finally has the opportunity to get closer to their family or their friends. Even when they have an opportunity to change their life for the better. Good turnover exists when their significant other gets an amazing opportunity that can’t be turned down. Good turnover exists when employees who don’t fit with the culture are let go so they can find somewhere they can thrive.


So all I can do while I’m suffering through these goodbyes is to continue to try to improve. I’ll be hopeful that in the future our turnover is more because we’ve grown and developed someone to the point that they are ready for the next great thing and less because we failed them in some way. At this point it’s still a mix of both. If you’re the employee who is leaving do your best to grow where you are planted. Give your employers the feedback they need to improve. Make sure when it’s time for you to go, think it through.

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