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The Initial Survey

Simon spent the next week working up a few simple questions for the survey. He had just one goal in mind: to discover why so many employees came and went at Admiral.

The following Monday morning, the surveys were distributed to each of Admiral's 407 employees.

At first, the employees were resistant. Some were cynical, others were skeptical, and most of them were just plain cautious. Who could blame them? It was out of left field. It was just so different from what they were used to.

“Why are they asking me why people are leaving? Why don't they ask the people who left?” Simon overheard one employee saying in the lunchroom.

A few brave shift managers came by Simon's office to ask him straight out what he was trying to get at. Simon set them at ease, asked them to be sincere, and asked them to encourage their direct reports to do the same.

“They don't have to put their names on the surveys. They can just fill them out and hand them back,” he explained. “Like I said in my letter on the front page of the survey, we can't go on like this, month after month, hiring dozens and dozens of people. We want to find a new way, and we figured nobody knows the reasons people are leaving like our employees.”

It wasn't long before the surveys started coming back. In the next two weeks, 187 of Admiral's employees returned the survey. The response was much greater than anyone had thought it would be. And what did Simon's employees tell him?

Simon started reading through the surveys one by one at 4:30 on Thursday afternoon. An hour later, he stopped and sat back. A smile crossed his face. “It's so obvious — and yet we didn't see it,” he said to himself.

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