Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Attrition - The Vicious Cycle

My new company seems to be having a problem.  We seem to be losing people left and right. The turnover on the dev team seems to be very high and it is very concerning to me and others as having continuity and history on the team is very important.

It got me thinking about when I left Microsoft.  Slowly but surely, the team I left is looking less and less like the team I left.  I wouldn't say the exodus started with me, in fact I think I probably hit the middle of the cycle.  However, leaving in the middle gives me a unique view of the situation.

I could take a whole post about my reasons for leaving Microsoft, and I plan on writing that post someday soon.  But I can say now that it was in no small part to not wanting to be the last one off a sinking ship.  At my job prior to Microsoft, I actually was the last one on the ship.  I held it up as long as I could and it was tiring.  One of the key reasons that smart people work where they do is because they want to work with other smart people.  When you start seeing the other smart people leave, and leave for reasons like they are dissatisified with the team, you have to look around and wonder what is going on.

It's actually something I'm not sure upper-management always gets.  Losing good people reverberates far beyond just the person that is leaving.  I've been in discussions about key people leaving, and it is often not treated as earnestly as I would think it should be in times.  Attrition is a nasty cycle.  Good people leave causing more good people to leave.  Pretty soon, you are left with the people who aren't very good or don't have any other options.

The thing that always surprises me though is that management always sees it coming.  Rarely does a star leave without some sort of indication of his/her dissatisfaction long before a resignation is given.  The thing is, rarely if ever is anything done about it.  Often people just kind of throw their hands up and say, "there is nothing we can do about it."  It's sad how little action those capable of doing anything about it actually ever do anything about it.  I wonder if people get so high up that they  really do see people as interchangeable parts.  Do they really not realize who is responsible for doing the work?  Are they so busy trying to drive the car that they forget how necessary things are like the engine?

1 comment:

  1. Ran across this site (http://getrichslowly.org/blog/) that was linked on a friend's blog and thought you'd be interested.