Human Resources departments often give leaders a scorecard about people leaving the organization. Some departures are classified as Non-voluntary, meaning they were asked to leave. Others are Voluntary, meaning they quit. Within the voluntary category there are two sub-categories; non-regrettable (we’re glad they left) and regrettable (we wish they were staying).
This approach is rooted in an employment environment from decades ago when people worked for one company their entire career. It assumes you want to reduce voluntary turnover because there is a cost associated with it. However, the human costs associated with retaining a bad fit is much higher. Not to mention the costs of ruining someone’s potential to make them fit our business model or an open position.
In a dynamic and sustainable enterprise, people are growing all the time. They are growing because they want to, because there is always more to learn, and because leaders who are Champions of Relevance insist on it. One result of finding great people and developing them well is they might outgrow the roles we have available. In some cases, this is an opportunity to invent a new role that leverages great talent. In many other cases it requires us to recognize that organizational “fit” can only be determined moment by moment, and possibly for a finite time. This thinking also opens the possibility of selecting applicants for their likely near-term contribution, even if neither company nor applicant believe this is a long-term home for them.
The only regrettable termination should be one where we failed the employee in avoidable ways and everyone was diminished by the employment experience and relationship. Having someone leave for truly great opportunities that we enthusiastically helped them prepare for shows a commitment to employees that will fill your recruiting pipeline with great people who know you believe in them. If you’re in HR, think about adding a metric for We Backed a Winner. Imagine your Glassdoor ratings.