Good companies with good products and good people often lose good employees. What makes employees leave good jobs? What can you do to keep them?
Apply the 5 “Be’s” below will put you on a path to achieving sky high retention.
1) Be clear. People want to follow good leaders. They want to fight for leaders who have big ideas and want to change the world. Steve Jobs, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., these leaders articulated a vision rooted in values that resonated with many. Share your big ideas with your staff. Help them to see through your eyes. Talk about what drives you, what values are core to your identity, what values you want to model, you expect them to model, and you want your company to stand for.
2) Be real. Far too many leaders come up with a beautiful values, vision, or mission statement. They place it on the wall in a conspicuous place never to be discussed again. Get real. Be authentic. When you hire talent ask the team, “Does this person share our values?” Before you promote an employee ask the same question. Point them to the wall mounted values statement and ask your team. “Does this person share our values?” When a difficult decision needs to be made use the values statement as your anchor. Once again ask your team as you evaluate the best course of action. “Does this decision align with our core values?” Drifting away from your original core values is easy. But if you refer to them often the values anchor is more likely to hold firm. Set aside time annually in your strategic planning meeting to revisit your values statement and ask the team, “Is this who we still are?”
3) Be open. Communication is key to a strong culture and high performing team. When I meet a new client I am excited to learn how often the leaders meet. And for how long do they meet? You would be surprised how many organizations and teams do not meet at all. Conversely, you would not be surprised to learn how many teams believe they meet too often.
Employees want to know everything that effects them. They want to feel involved, engaged, and respected by both the amount of communication and the quality of communication from the top.
Guide your frequency and duration of communication by judging what it will take to make sure all parties at all levels are appropriately informed. When in doubt communicate more not less.
The key people on your team that enjoy high levels of your trust and responsibility expect to know more than others. Top performers also have high expectations of being in on things. To withhold information deemed critical to their success is short sighted and will only provoke regrets.
Don’t ask for input unless you are willing to allow the impact received to influence your decision. Employees know when they are being placated.
But when employees see decisions altered due to their influence they are empowered. They feel valued and respected.
The book “Death by Meeting” by Patrick Lencione is a great resource to make your meetings more meaningful. Make sure you share daily what each of your team members needs to know in order to be successful.
4) Be kind. One of my favorite presentation is “The “Power of Love at Work.” Love, to be loved, to feel love, to be in the presence of a loving person is compelling. Kindness flows out of a loving and grateful heart. Say “thank you” and mean it. Ask don’t demand. Say “please” even through you are the boss.
So many successful people start out this way but then power, money, and position change them. They yell, demand, spew angry words, and profanity. Why? Because they can.
How do you want your employees to treat each other? How do you expect them to treat customers even difficult ones? You need to model that behavior.
When you do it will inspire other to do the same. When you are gentle while under pressure or patient while enduring extreme stress you teach others to do the same. Your example sets the standard. In the same way your angry, harsh, impatient example sets a standard just a much lower one.
Remember people are not machines. They have feelings. Your smile, your praise, your reassurance will motivate them to persevere in difficult times. Your scowl, your criticism, and your negativity will discourage them and make them believe that giving up is a better choice. Every day when you look in the mirror remind yourself of the impact you can have on your team. Choose kindness!
5) Be humble. You are the founder, the President, the CEO. But you accomplished nothing on your own. Everything good that happened to you someone else played a role. Live that reality. When you know this you willingly invite people into your world of planning, thinking, struggling, and achieving because you know the end result will be better for it. You set your ego aside and collaborate. You set demanding aside and yield to those who are closer to the problem and wiser in that area than you.
When you are humble you ask for grace and receive it. You are quick to apologize when you stray from and violate your own core values. Your awareness of your imperfections allow you to accept the imperfections of others. You can accept the apologies of others. You use stumbles and failures as magnificent training opportunities. You share your own stumbles and failures with others and the valuable lessons you learned because of them. Transparent. Vulnerable. These qualities inspire others to greater virtue reassuring them that perfection is not required.
If you do you will be great! A great leader. A great servant. A great role model for all who aspire to become a great person even more than achieving greatness in their career.