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  • Mike Burke

I get this question a lot.

Its a huge deal in retail, but even in my past world, we would experience high turnover for certain jobs.

I've found when I was in this situation; I would try to overcompensate by making them feel "extra" important.

I would also let them make decisions they normally wouldn't be allowed to make.

I found this gave them the feeling that they are in charge.

Then I'd make a big deal of their accomplishments.

Here's a quick story.

Jan was one of my go-to people when I was running my division.

Unfortunately, in her position, she wasn't paid what she was worth because of the companies written in stone pay levels.

Jan was offered a job that paid over 20% more working for a family company.

In her exit interview with Ray, our Human Resources manager and me, she said, "I don't want to leave, and I don't want to work for that family company, but I'm the primary earner I have to take it."

Then she said, "I love it here, I get to make my own decisions - big decisions I'll never be able to make in any other job."

Then she said, "This is the first job I ever had where I feel important to the company, but I'm the primary earner, and I have to take the money."

Ray asked, "what types of things are you doing that make you feel important?"

When she went through the list, I saw Ray's eyes light up.

Then Ray asked Jan to please wait a minute in the room and went to my office with Ray.

I said, "What can we do? We can't afford to lose her."


Ray said, "I didn't know she was doing all that; we can add those duties to her job description, and then she would be eligible for a little more money."

"How much?"

Maybe three to four percent.

I said, "that's never going to it, I don't even want to insult her with three or four percent.

Ray said, "let me do the talking."


We went back in, and Ray told Jan we were willing to "break" some rules to keep her.

Then I cringed when he said, "we just got approved to give you four percent more to keep you."

She just sat there. Honestly, it started to get uncomfortable.

We were both wondering, "what's she thinking?"

Then she turned her head to wipe a tear off her face trying not to let us see her doing it and said, "can I have tonight to think about it?"


We were both like, "yea sure get back to us in the morning." Then she left the room.


Ray and I sat there, wondering, "is she insulted?" "Is she thinking about it?"

We didn't know.

The next morning Jan walked into my office and gave me a pile of spreadsheets but didn't say anything about staying or leaving.

We made some small talk about her kids, and then she said, "Oh, I'm staying and started to walk out the door."

I was shocked; I shouldn't have said it but blurted out, "really why?"

Jan said, "I know you guys never give more than the company allows you to."

"But you went to bat for me, and that feels good like I'm appreciated."

I'll never forget those two days.

Then I wondered to myself, "how many top performers have I lost over the years because of a couple of percent?"


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