Therein lays the first clue of what to fix: ’employee’ retention. There are uncounted articles written about employee retention. Employee retention is a very human topic. Yet the vast majority of related articles treat their subject (we humans) very impersonally, like things. Not, ‘how to keep your people,’ or, ‘how to keep your team together.’ Rather it’s ’employees.’ Makes the topic sound about as exciting as personnel, headcount, ‘bodies’ (my least favorite).
It’s interesting. Do me a favor and try doing a couple internet searches. Try, ‘why employees leave’. And then, try swapping out ’employee’ with ‘people’, or something similar, and see what happens. All of a sudden, your results go from being very dry, very clinical in nature, to results that tend to have human interest, deal with real ‘people’ issues.
Think about it, do you think it matters? It sure does, for me. How do you feel when referred to as ’employee’ versus ‘team member’?
There are a few basic keys to keeping people engaged. They are trust, communication, faith, and guts.
Want more? Try these:
At the end of the day, at the start of the day, those who work for you, those who work with you, need to be able to trust you. For instance, an open door policy is more than whether you physically leave your office door open, or not. It is a state of mind, a matter of your mind and ears being open to whomever may come by for a chat. It also means, making sure that if someone brings a difficult issue to you, that they know they can do so without fear of reprisal.
In my last role, this was something that took my team awhile to believe. Coming in, I let everyone know from the start that they could feel comfortable speaking their mind. After all, I’d much prefer to be told an idea was stupid, by my team, rather than by outsiders or (arguably) worse, my own boss. It took three months, but eventually, they did feel comfortable enough to tell me…and then I knew at least a basic level of trust had been achieved.
Would your team feel comfortable telling you what’s on their mind? Without concern?
What the heck’s going on? It’s right up there among the major issues for most employees. What’s going on? What should I know that I don’t? Are my efforts worth doing? Am I doing the right thing(s)?
Every one of us wants to know what’s going on around us. We all want to know our efforts are appreciated or, failing that, at least not a waste. We’ve likely all read articles pointing out most managers don’t even know what their people are doing on a day-to-day basis. Why is that?
Fundamentally, I firmly believe it comes down to a lack of effective communication. Sure, with flatter organizations resulting in many more direct reports for each manager, it’s impossible to truly ‘know’ what everyone’s doing. Nor should you have to. But, if every manager communicates effectively (e.g. frequently, with guidance and value), he or she should feel confident their staff knows what they should be doing.
Outside scholarly, theological works, this one word seems to escape discussion; probably because Faith and Trust are often seen as synonymous. For me, I see them a bit differently.
Trusting someone can be as simple as knowing how the person will react in a given situation. If I bring an issue to your attention, I may trust you will not treat me poorly as a result. Faith, goes a step further, I not only know how you will likely respond…I agree with and/or support what I believe you’re likely to do. That is because, as a leader, you are willing to boldly, brightly, clearly state what you believe. This is the extra ‘bit’ required to go from trust, to having faith in someone.
Guts. Determination. Morale Fortitude.
Your team wants to know that you believe…in them. Woe is the manager who throws his own team under the bus at the first sign of trouble. The team will perform best, be willing to take risks, if they can trust their boss to defend them when problems arise; that there will be good communication as problems are worked through; and, have faith that the paths chosen were the best ones available at the time.
Teams also appreciate their manager having the ‘guts,’ the determination, and morale fortitude, do what’s right even in tough times. This boils down to having integrity—doing what’s right even if no one else knows. I speak to this topic at length in Do You Have It In You…to be an Entrepreneur (Guts).
Today, there is a lot being written, worried over, the anticipated exodus of ’employees’ as soon as the economy starts showing signs of life again. If all people are to you are ’employees,’ I suspect you should worry. If you’ve built a team, if the team is engaged and positive relationships are in place, my expectation is you’re going to be Ok.