The resignation letter stared at Adrian. His best team member, Eric, had just quit. Eric was employee of the year last December and just received a raise two months ago. He was in line to become lead technician in his department. What could be better? What else could Adrian, his manager, have done?
I inquired about the exit interview conducted by the HR coordinator. The form stated that Eric left for better wages.
Adrian was worried. Three years ago, Eric entered the company as an inexperienced recruit among a group of seasoned veterans. Over time, his personal productivity outpaced the entire team. In Eric’s absence, Adrian feared the overall output of the team would falter. Eric often carried the whole group.
I called Eric, already gainfully employed (at a lower wage) in another company. Happy with his decision, Eric shared his story. On a crew of six, Eric had consistently accounted for 50 percent of the output. The other team members were slackers riding on his coattails. I asked what Adrian could have done differently. The advice was quick and simple. “Cut the dead wood. Release the poorest performers and productivity would have increased, even with a reduced headcount.”
Adrian is left with the remnants of a mediocre team. But before he can heed the advice, he has to find another Eric.