Don’t Quit On Me! How To Be A Better Boss…
If the response to last week’s article proves anything, it is this:
“People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”
Of the 900+ comments we received, the overwhelming majority referenced poor management as the impetus for the employee’s exit from the company. In fact, they argued it was the foundation for the other six predominant reasons why employees quit. If management is the problem, what is the solution?
Many companies are making an effort to decrease the voluntary quit rate by taking preemptive action. Some have resorted to monitoring employee activity on career management and job search sites such as LinkedIn. Others are using technology to track when employees are more likely to leave: anniversaries, milestone birthdays, etc. “Large companies have also begun tracking badge swipes—employees’ use of an ID to enter and exit the building or the parking garage—to identify patterns that suggest a worker may be interviewing for a job.”
Needless to say, some of these strategies will do more harm than good when it comes to rebuilding the relationship and enticing employees to stick around. More importantly, it continues to leave leaders on the defensive, tossing out counteroffers and scrambling to hang on to employees who clearly have one foot out the door. In the end, management is simply putting off the inevitable because 50% of employees who accept that counteroffer leave within 12 months. Thus continuing the quit/hire cycle because the real issues have not been addressed. What are companies to do?
7 Ways to Keep Your Best Employees from Leaving
1. Be a better boss. Some argue leadership cannot be learned. We disagree. It certainly helps to have innate leadership qualities and tendencies, but even the most natural leaders must refine their skills. If a company is invested in its leadership, they will provide the right training and mentorship for management at every level. Seminars, books, mastermind groups, and mentorships are all excellent tools for the management trade. But to be successful, leaders must be open to learning and making changes, and the executive team must create an environment that nurtures and encourages those managers to grow and improve.
2. Know your employee’s long-term goals and provide opportunities to reach them. Almost 32% of employees cited “lack of growth” as the reason they quit. I am left wondering how many of their managers even knew their employees wanted to do more? Few employees show up to work simply for the paycheck. (There are exceptions, of course.) Do you know where your staff wants to be in 2 years? 3? 5? Investing in the professional growth of your employees benefits the team, and in turn, you. Provide them with opportunities that will increase their skill set, demand implementing new ideas and problem-solving, and satisfy their desire to grow within their career.
3. Show them there is no “better job” than the one they have. You may not have the power to give them a raise or a promotion, but you do have the power to help your employees be happy and grow in their existing role. Provide opportunities to lead a project or a team, give them challenging work, and let the “powers that be” know when he or she is successful.
4. Acknowledge a job well done. Never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. According to Dr. Bob Nelson, a leading expert on employee motivation, engagement, recognition, and rewards, “58% of workers report they seldom if ever receive a ‘thank you’ from their boss.” Not only is this a disservice to the employee, but it is also detrimental to the success of the department and, ultimately, the company. As we mentioned earlier, you may not be in the position to offer up a raise, but there are many things a manager can do to acknowledge the work employees’ put in.
5. Be aware of office dynamics and do something about it! More people, means more personalities, which typically means more instances of office conflict. While managers would prefer to focus on the job and ignore the pettiness that occurs, they fail to understand that the “job” cannot be accomplished effectively if that conflict is left unchecked. Ideally, employees will behave like professionals (and grown-ups) and fulfill their responsibilities regardless of who is on their team. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. Toxic employees who continually start trouble, disrupt productivity, lie, undermine the team, and seek only their own success, will cause even the best teams to crumble. And managers who pretend it isn’t happening or refuse to listen to complaints will make that happen sooner rather than later. It’s not always easy to distinguish between conflicting personalities and a bad seed that is preventing the team from being successful. That is no excuse. It begins with your hiring practices. Strive to build your team with people who have complimenting skills and experience, and develop a strong onboarding process that includes mentorship and consistent check-ins with the new hire and existing employees you trust. Identify positive and negative behavior patterns, monitor workload and willingness to take ownership and responsibility for deadlines and tasks, keep an eye on changes in staff dynamics. Most importantly, address issues immediately and take action if problems are not rectified or you will see your best employees lose respect for you as a leader and loyalty to the company, leaving you with an office full of toxic employees.
6. Distribute work fairly. Don’t punish your best and most reliable employees by giving them more (or menial) work because you “think they can handle it.” If they have proven to be reliable and produce high-quality work, reward them with more responsibility or allow them to take the lead on the next project. Think of their professional goals (or ask them about those goals) and add responsibilities that support those goals. Asking them to pick up the slack of other employees who are not cutting the mustard is unfair and demoralizing and will cause resentment to spread faster than a wildfire.
7. Let your employees have a life. It’s easy to become reliant upon your best employees. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to do your job, right? Whether it’s your executive assistant or your top salesperson, your employees need to have a life outside the office…A life that does not include after-hours texts, emails, or phone calls from you. If you don’t allow your employees to “clock out” at the end of the day, you are going to encourage burnout and send them walking.
The key to being a successful leader is this: Remember you are managing people, not the job.
Build your office or team culture on open communication with your employees. This ensures their needs can be met and problems can be addressed immediately. Managers with an open door policy will know when the workload isn’t challenging enough or is being divided unfairly and can swiftly tend to office conflict before it escalates and drives good employees out the door. Simply put, treat your employees the way you would like to be treated by your boss.
There are times, however, that the problem might not lie with management. When’s the last time you looked at what you might be doing to contribute to your job dissatisfaction? A discussion for next week…