Square Pegs: Keeping Good People At Your Company


May 29, 2013

From the dusty archives…

Square Peg in a Round Hole_0565Have you heard the expression you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole?

Well, you can.  You can get creative and smash it in there or fill up the edges with other items.  In other words, you can make it work temporarily.  But, what if you are that square peg?  What does that mean for you?  What does it mean if you are the leader and notice a strong employee not fitting into the department they are part of?

As a human resources professional, I’ve had my share of discussions with employees and leaders about not fitting in.  What we don’t talk enough about is our mutual ability to positively impact retention and how we can avoid the high cost of unnecessary turnover. According  to a study by AARP, replacing an experienced worker at any age can cost 50 percent or more of the individual’s annual salary in turnover-related costs, with increased costs for jobs requiring specialized skills, advanced training or extensive experience.”  That reason alone should compel organizational leaders to look across the company and determine who the strong players are and how best to collectively retain them.

As leaders:

  • Why do we let good employees go just because they are not a fit with one supervisor?
  • Why do we let that historical knowledge walk out the door?
  • Why don’t we do more to find a fit internally for that individual?

Recognize a square peg

Most articles on leadership and management focus on developing your own team or your skills and ability to manage and lead.  My challenge for you today is to look at another team in the organization and see if you find a square peg.  Is there someone who may be in the wrong role and struggling in fitting in there who would be a shining star in another part of the organization?

As leaders, it’s our duty to work toward what is best for the organization and part of that is ensuring we keep the best employees.  Retaining top people is a group effort and if you know that there is someone your organization is at risk of losing, look deeper.  Reach out. You may just save someone from leaving an organization where they could excel and push things forward.

One Comment

  • It’s always a good idea to hold on to your top players. It’s not always easy. Especially when the upper management looks at them as property, that once acquired, can never be lost. But if you can make them understand their value, or, even better, if your HR department is strong enough to take this kind of decisions on its own, there are loads of things you can do in order to ensure your top talent’s loyalty and well being.

Comments are closed.

A square red peg hammered into a round hole surrounded by small pieces of the peg. Hammer in the background. On a white background
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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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