3 ways to stop good employees from leaving
Friday, October 04, 2019
I was recently hired to coach a COO who was having a hard time retaining people on his team. When I interviewed his current direct reports and people who had left, I heard the same complaints.
“Working for him is like a guessing game. We don’t know what our roles are or what we are supposed to do.” “He thinks we’re mind readers. Our responsibilities change all the time and we don’t know what we’re supposed to do from day to day.” We presented our findings along with our recommendations for change.
Below are three reasons employees were leaving, along with ways to get them to stay.
1. Employees didn’t know what was expected of them.
This caused confusion and chaos. When people don’t know what their manager or leader expects from them, it’s harder to make decisions, take creative risks or even ask for help. It’s like working in a whirling vortex with no end in sight. It’s not enough to hire someone and just leave them to fend for themselves.
Solution: When you hire a new employee, be clear about what you expect in terms of objectives to meet, how you want them to work and what kind of accountability you want from them.
Find out their expectations of you, the position and the job. Agree on how you will measure their performance and the results you want.
2. Employees don’t have the tools or training they need to get their jobs done.
This causes them to spend extra time trying to gather what they need or trying to do their jobs with the wrong tools. They could be spending that time being productive or creating new products and services. No matter how smart, qualified or creative someone is, if they don’t have the right tools, they can’t work.
Solution: Ask them what tools they need and find the best way to provide those tools. If you want them to bring in a speaker, give them a budget. If their job entails meeting and interacting with people who are different, then give them training in communicating across differences.
You can’t cut grass with a hammer, nor can you do your job without the right equipment, information or training.
3. Provide encouragement and recognize their accomplishments, good ideas or when they take an action that solves a client problem.
The CEO of a small restaurant was known for only telling employees when they made mistakes or did something wrong. He corrected them in front of the whole staff. When asked, he said that it would teach a lesson to everyone else and would discourage others from making the same mistake.
What it actually did was intimidate everyone and destroy initiative because no one wanted to be embarrassed in front of everyone. Employees said they couldn’t even hear the criticism and immediately got defensive.
Solution: Feedback helps people grow but embarrassing people makes them want to shrink and disappear. Take the employee aside and talk to them alone about their action and what happened as a result.
Be objective, don’t raise your voice and offer constructive suggestions as to what they could have done differently. They will be less likely to get defensive, better able to understand your feedback and discuss how to fix their mistakes.
Meet with employees one on one, be clear about your expectations and be prepared to answer their questions. When you take these actions, you will set up an environment of trust and demonstrate that you care about your employees’ success.
It may take more time than you think you have, but your employees will feel more empowered, more likely to find creative solutions to serve your market and be better able to find new ways to provide excellent customer service. You’ll save time, money and energy in the long term.
As a leader, you have a choice to either micromanage, and yell at your employees when they make mistakes so they get discouraged and apply to work for your competitor; or support their success, allow for failures that help them learn, and encourage their growth so they want to stay and be part of your success.
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