Arnie was quiet. He made his budget for the quarter. Along the way, he lost two critical managers and five of his best production people. Over a period of three months, it didn’t seem like a frenzy, but in the lookback, the numbers stacked up.
“Well, if we paid more competitive wages, we could attract a higher caliber of people, and perhaps our turnover ratios wouldn’t look.” Arnie stopped mid-sentence. He knew it was a well articulated excuse, and he knew I wasn’t buying it.
“What do you think the problem is?” I asked.
Arnie dropped his face and looked directly at me. The silence was long. Finally, his eyes grabbed a thought from the top of the room. “You are not asking me to go through personnel records, or walk the floor, trying to figure out what the problem is,” he started slowly. “You are sitting in my office, looking at me. You think I’m the problem?”
His eyes went left, then right, up, left. “Outlast the panic,” I directed. “Be calm.” While his body was calm, his mind was racing, for escape, for avoidance, for denial.