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Saying What The Company Already Knows

By Dan Morrill

As we wrapped up a project and delivered our final report, why wasn't management surprised by what we found?

There is nothing better than finishing up a project and delivering your final report, then move on to do something equally or more interesting in the longer run. We were running a management consultant contract to determine why turn over in the company was so high and so continual over a long period of time.

This involved going back, talking to employees who left, talking to employees and finding out what they were thinking of doing in the next 1 to 5 years, and what their thoughts were on staying with the company. As well as their thoughts on the future of the company if things changed or if things stayed the same, and getting to know the needs, wants, desires, and frustrations of the employees of the company.

The key area's of concern for employees and managers

Communications - or the lack of between various groups that were physically distant from each other. Head office didn't know who worked at each location nor did they follow up with people on issue items, tracking, support, and a host of other support issues.

Different Treatment - the company would drop off schwag at one work site, but not at others, since members of different work sites talked to each other, the getting of trade goods at one space and not at another caused morale issues.

Differences between people - some people had company e-mail accounts, others didn't, some had access to the 401K or knew about it, others didn't, others had better information than the general body of people.

Pay - surprisingly this was 4th on the list. The company was routinely anywhere between 15K to 30K below market rates, so people would come in and then get offers for better paying job. The main reason that people stayed in the job was because the company was fun, and doing great things, people loved working at the task, but other internal issues were what the real issues were, and when faced with a company that would pay better and treat the employee better, the employee would usually leave.

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90 days of interviews, research, and data munging, and not a shocked or surprised look at the conference table. Many nods that they knew that these were the issues that these were the concerns, and these were the issues leading to employee turn over. None of this was a surprise to anyone in the senior management group that we presented to. We answered some good questions, and wrapped up the meeting wondering if we had given value for money, had we done what we not only needed to do, but had given the company more than they expected.

In the out brief with our sponsor though, we learned more about our answers and our findings than we had realized.

Senior management knew all this already, and we were the 5th management consultant to come through in the last 2 years that basically said the same thing. Yet management didn't want to change how the company operated, or how they worked the contracts. Each previous consultancy that had come through had not only said the same thing, but had offered similar ways to fix the problem. Yet senior management was not supportive of the issue. So no changes had taken place, and they limped along with substandard pay that lead to long delays in filling jobs (or worst yet, getting what you paid for, no super stars in the lot), many hours spent interviewing substandard candidates, and an employee turn over rate that was debilitating to the company in meeting objectives or finishing projects.

As we walked out the building, the presentation team was fairly stunned, and as we stat in a coffee shop talking about the end of contract and debriefing each other, we realized that just what we were doing here, the final conversation in a coffee shop, was beyond the company that we had just reviewed. They would never think of doing this when closing down a project. We looked across the street at the big office tower, and each one of us thanked our fortune that we at least talked to each other.


About the Author:
Dan Morrill has been in the information security field for 18 years, both civilian and military, and is currently working on his Doctor of Management. Dan shares his insights on the important security issues of today through his blog, Managing Intellectual Property & IT Security, and is an active participant in the ITtoolbox blogging community.

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