Focus: People Management - Coaching session with Stephen Bubb

We have a high staff turnover and our trustees are getting worried. What do I do to reverse this? Should I be worried?

Hang on. What do you mean by high turnover? Did you know that in London turnover was running at 23 per cent last year? Frankly, bald statistics may not tell you very much about whether there is a problem or not.

Let's not forget that turnover is a good thing. You want your bright and talented people to progress their careers. You want people who aren't delivering to go. You want a regular injection of fresh ideas and new blood.

Not the public sector

Let's not be too bureaucratic about this. You are not working in those old-fashioned organisations where you join at 18 and then progress through the ranks until you retire. This is not the public sector (and frankly, some sections of that could do with higher turnover rather than recycling the incompetent).

Remember that low turnover may mean you are not tackling all of your performance issues or getting in new talent.

Why don't you take your turnover statistics for the last year and divide people into three groups. Group one consists of those you either wanted to leave or for whom it was time to move on, group two of those you really wanted to stay but who moved on too quickly and group three of those who fall into neither group.

Now look at the number of people in group two. If this is a high figure, you do have problems. You will have to review your strategy for keeping hold of the people you really want in your organisation. However, don't go for blanket solutions such as increasing everyone's pay and conditions.

Recognise achievements

Review your talent reward strategy. Of course, for many of us running small organisations there simply isn't room for much career progression, so look at ways in which you can recognise achievements, such as offering platforms and opportunities to write and supporting professional development.

Views differ on the value of performance-related pay or bonuses for high performance. They may well have a place if you are developing your talent strategy.

And if you are a chief executive, make sure you know who your stars are and keep an eye on them. By the way, these aren't only the bright and energetic ones. You might have a really superb office manager who knows where everything is and ensures things run smoothly for you.

And finally, if your trustees are fretting, aren't they getting a little too involved in the day-to-day management job?

- Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo). Send your questions to

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