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Posts Tagged ‘employee retention’

Five Keys to Employee Engagement and Employee Retention

Employees leave managers not jobs. We’ve all heard this 100 times.

One of the most prevalent reasons for employee turnover is boredom and lack of growth. We’ve also heard this many times.

We know why employees leave jobs. The question is what must managers do to engage and retain their best people. The answer is actually quite simple, although possibly not easy to execute.

Employees want to know that their manager:

  • Knows them
  • Cares about and is invested in their careers
  • Gives feedback so they can improve
  • Provides opportunities so they can develop

In other words, employees need attention, and attention requires time – time many managers may not feel they have.

Here is a five-step formula for employee retention and employee engagement:

  1. Get to know employees better and differently.
  2. Have meaningful, one-on-one meetings [at least] monthly.
  3. Give feedback every time you meet.
  4. Ask for and be open to feedback.
  5. Create opportunities for employees to do the work that interests them most.

Managers, how do you make time for these meetings when you are busy and have several direct reports?

  1. Meet for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Meet over the phone while commuting or waiting for flights.
  3. Ask direct reports to create an agenda and run the meetings.
  4. Ask direct reports to send follow-up notes of decisions and plans made during meetings. Give some of the accountability away.
  5. If meetings get cancelled, reschedule as soon as possible. Direct reports take cancelled meetings personally. Cancelled meetings that are not rescheduled send the message that managers don’t care about employees and their careers.

Employees, if your manager doesn’t schedule meetings with you:

  1. Ask permission to put a monthly meeting on your manager’s calendar.
  2. Provide rationale for why you want to meet – to get your manager’s feedback and ensure you’re focused on the right work.
  3. Ask permission to reschedule meetings when they get cancelled.
  4. Don’t take cancelled meetings personally.
  5. Offer to meet with your manager via the phone when it’s convenient for him/her. Leverage commute and travel time.

Employees need time with their managers. Meaningful discussions and work result in employee engagement and employee retention. So managers, make the time, even when you don’t feel you have it. Ask questions you don’t ask now. Give feedback, even if it’s uncomfortable. Give your employees an opportunity to do the work that interests them most. And watch your employee engagement and employee retention improve. And if your manager doesn’t do these things, politely and persistently ask. You won’t get what you don’t ask for. We are all 100% accountable for our careers.


How to Retain Good Employees, and Yourself

The fear of saying what we think and asking for what we want at work is prevalent across organizations. We want more money, but don’t know how to ask for it. We want to advance our careers but are concerned about the impression we’ll make if we ask for more. Instead of making requests, many employees assume they won’t get their needs met and choose to leave their jobs, either physically or emotionally.

How to Retain Good Employees:

The key to keeping the best employees engaged and doing their best work is to ask more questions and make it safe to tell the truth.

Managers:

  • Do you know why your employees chose your organization and what would make them leave?
  • Do you know your employees’ best and worst boss?

The answers to these questions tells managers what employees need from the organization, job, and from the manager/employee working relationship.

Can your manager answer these questions – that I call Candor Questions – about you? For most people, the answer is no. Most managers don’t ask these questions. And most employees are not comfortable giving this information, especially if the manager hasn’t asked for it.

It’s easy to mistake my book, How to Say Anything to Anyone, as a book about giving feedback. It’s not. It takes me nine chapters to get to feedback. The first eight chapters of the book are about how to create relationships in which you can tell the truth without fear. You can read all the feedback books you want and take numerous training classes on coaching, managing people, giving feedback, and managing conflict, and you’ll still be hesitant to speak up, because a formula for giving feedback is not what you’re missing. What’s missing is being given permission and knowing it’s safe to tell the truth.

How to Retain Good Employees

Managers, here’s how to retain good employees:

“I appreciate you choosing to work here. I want this to be the best career move you’ve made, and I want to be the best boss you’ve had. I don’t want to have to guess what’s important to you. I’d like to ask you some questions to get to know you and your career goals better. Please tell me anything you’re comfortable saying. And if you’re not comfortable answering a question, just know that I’m interested and I care. And if, at any point, you’re comfortable telling me, I’d like to know.”

How to Retain Good EmployeesThen ask the Candor Questions during job interviews, one-on-one, and team meetings. We’re always learning how to work with people. So continue asking questions throughout your relationships. These conversations are not one-time events.

If you work for someone who isn’t asking you these questions, offer the information. You could say:

“I wanted to tell you why I chose this organization and job, and what keeps me here. I also want to tell you the things I really need to be happy and do my best work. Is it ok if I share?”

Your manager will be caught off guard, but it is likely that she will also be grateful. It’s much easier to manage people when you know what they need and why. Most managers want this information, it just may not occur to them to ask.

If the language above makes you uncomfortable, you can always blame me. You could say:

“I read this blog and the author suggested I tell you what brought me to this organization and what I really need to be happy here and do my best work. She said I’d be easier to manage if you had that information. Is it ok if I share?”

Yes, this might feel a little awkward at first, but the conversation will flow, and both you and your manager will learn a great deal about each other.

The ability to tell the truth starts with asking questions, giving people permission to speak candidly, and listening to the answers.How to Say Anything to Anyone


Let Unhappy Employees and Vendors Go – Don’t Chase

letting an employee goSeveral years ago I hired a vendor that wasn’t a good fit. Try as we might to work together, we didn’t communicate well. Everything was a struggle. After a frustrating few weeks, the owner of the business offered to refund my money and amicably part ways. His company had already done work on our behalf and I didn’t want to lose momentum. I turned him down. That was a mistake. When a small business owner, who needs your business (money), tells you to go elsewhere, listen. We parted ways a few months later in a much more costly and less amicable way.

You don’t want to work with people who don’t want to work with you. The same is true for friends and romantic relationships. Don’t chase people. If they don’t want you, move on. There are lots of other people who will see your value.

There are differing schools of thought on whether or not you should try to retain unhappy employees who quit. I’d be interested in seeing statistics on how long employees who quit but are then retained, stay with an organization and how well they perform. I’d let them go. Again, you don’t want people who don’t want you.

The challenge is that most people are afraid to speak up in organizations and relationships (of all kinds) when they’re unhappy. Unhappy employees typically quit versus make requests and give feedback.

The antidote is to create a culture in which employees, vendors, and customers openly make requests and talk about what is and isn’t working. Create a climate of candor in which feedback is exchanged regularly versus just during exit interviews, which is too late.

How to know when to cut bait with unhappy employees and vendors:

  1. You’ve had several open discussions and can’t meet each others’ needs. If you don’t have a job the employee wants, that’s a good reason to part ways.
  1. It’s not a good culture fit. You talk and talk but don’t communicate. Issues don’t get resolved. Frustration is the norm. This is also a good reason to end a working (or personal) relationship.

Five steps to create a more candid culture:

  1. Discuss employees’, customers’, and vendors’ needs and requests at the beginning of working relationships. Agree upon what success and a good job looks like. Ask lots and lots of questions, and listen closely to the answers.
  1. Ask for feedback regularly. Conduct a weekly plus/delta (a discussion of what is and isn’t working) during which all parties are invited and expected to speak freely. The more you have these discussions, the easier they will be and the more candid people will become.
  1. Address challenges as they come up.
  1. Discuss challenges that can’t be fixed.
  1. If a relationship isn’t working, end it sooner rather than later. Be slow to hire and quick to fire.

There are lots of talented vendors and employees. Find employees and suppliers who are easy to work with (for you) and who can meet your needs, and vice versa. If you can’t meet each others’ needs or the relationship is a constant struggle, those are good reasons to move on. Don’t chase.

why employees quit


Let Unhappy Employees and Vendors Go – Don’t Chase

unhappy employees

Several years ago I hired a vendor that wasn’t a good fit. Try as we might to work together, we didn’t communicate well. Everything was a struggle. After a frustrating few weeks, the owner of the business offered to refund my money and amicably part ways. His company had already done work on our behalf and I didn’t want to lose momentum. I turned him down. That was a mistake. When a small business owner, who needs your business (money), tells you to go elsewhere, listen. We parted ways a few months later in a much more costly and less amicable way.

You don’t want to work with people who don’t want to work with you. The same is true for friends and romantic relationships. Don’t chase people. If they don’t want you, move on. There are lots of other people who will see your value.

There are differing schools of thought on whether or not you should try to retain unhappy employees who quit. I’d be interested in seeing statistics on how long employees who quit but are then retained, stay with an organization and how well they perform. I’d let them go. Again, you don’t want people who don’t want you.

The challenge is that most people are afraid to speak up in organizations and relationships (of all kinds) when they’re unhappy. Unhappy employees typically quit versus make requests and give feedback.

The antidote is to create a culture in which employees, vendors, and customers openly make requests and talk about what is and isn’t working. Create a climate of candor in which feedback is exchanged regularly versus just during exit interviews, which is too late.

How to know when to cut bait with unhappy employees and vendors:

  1. You’ve had several open discussions and can’t meet each others’ needs. If you don’t have a job the employee wants, that’s a good reason to part ways.
  1. It’s not a good culture fit. You talk and talk but don’t communicate. Issues don’t get resolved. Frustration is the norm. This is also a good reason to end a working (or personal) relationship.

Five steps to create a more candid culture:

  1. Discuss employees’, customers’, and vendors’ needs and requests at the beginning of working relationships. Agree upon what success and a good job looks like. Ask lots and lots of questions, and listen closely to the answers.
  1. Ask for feedback regularly. Conduct a weekly plus/delta (a discussion of what is and isn’t working) during which all parties are invited and expected to speak freely. The more you have these discussions, the easier they will be and the more candid people will become.
  1. Address challenges as they come up.
  1. Discuss challenges that can’t be fixed.
  1. If a relationship isn’t working, end it sooner rather than later. Be slow to hire and quick to fire.

There are lots of talented vendors and employees. Find employees and suppliers who are easy to work with (for you) and who can meet your needs, and vice versa. If you can’t meet each others’ needs or the relationship is a constant struggle, those are good reasons to move on. Don’t chase.

why employees quit


Five Keys to Employee Engagement and Employee Retention

Employees leave managers not jobs. We’ve all heard this 100 times.

One of the most prevalent reasons for employee turnover is boredom and lack of growth. We’ve also heard this many times.

We know why employees leave jobs. The question is what must managers do to engage and retain their best people. The answer is actually quite simple, although possibly not easy to execute.

employee retentionEmployees want to know that their manager:

  • Knows them
  • Cares about and is invested in their careers
  • Gives feedback so they can improve
  • Provides opportunities so they can develop

In other words, employees need attention, and attention requires time, time many managers may not feel they have.

Here is a five-step formula for employee retention and employee engagement:

  1. Get to know employees better and differently
  2. Have meaningful, one-on-one meetings [at least] monthly
  3. Give feedback every time you meet
  4. Ask for and be open to feedback
  5. Create opportunities for employees to do the work that interests them most

Managers, how do you make time for these meetings when are busy and have several direct reports?

  1. Meet for 15-30 minutes
  2. Meet over the phone while commuting or waiting for flights
  3. Ask direct reports to create an agenda and run the meetings
  4. Ask direct reports to send follow-up notes of decisions and plans made during meetings. Give some of the accountability away.
  5. If meetings get cancelled, reschedule as soon as possible. Direct reports take cancelled meeting personally. Cancelled meetings, that are not rescheduled, send the message that managers don’t care about employees and their careers.

Employees, if your manager doesn’t schedule meetings with you:

  1. Ask permission to put a monthly meeting on your manager’s calendar
  2. Provide rationale for why you want to meet–to get your manager’s feedback and ensure you’re focused on the right work
  3. Ask permission to reschedule meetings when they get cancelled
  4. Don’t take cancelled meetings personally
  5. Offer to meet with your manager via the phone when it’s convenient for him/her. Leverage commute and travel time.

Employees need time with their managers. Meaningful discussions and work result in employee engagement and employee retention, so managers, make the time, even when you don’t feel you have it. Ask questions you don’t ask now. Give feedback, even if it’s uncomfortable. Give your employees an opportunity to do the work that interests them most. And watch your employee engagement and employee retention improve. And if your manager doesn’t do these things, politely and persistently ask. You won’t get what you don’t ask for.  We are all 100% accountable for our careers.


How to Retain Good Employees, and Yourself

The fear of saying what we think and asking for what we want at work is prevalent across organizations. We want more money, but don’t know how to ask for it. We want to advance our careers but are concerned about the impression we’ll make if we ask for more. Instead of making requests, many employees assume they won’t get their needs met and choose to leave their jobs, either physically or emotionally.

How to Retain Good Employees:

The key to keeping the best employees engaged and doing their best work is to ask more questions and make it safe to tell the truth.

Managers:How to Retain Good Employees

  • Do you know why your employees chose your organization and what would make them leave?
  • Do you know your employees’ best and worst boss?

The answers to these questions tells managers what employees need from the organization, job, and from the manager/employee working relationship.

Can your manager answer these questions – that I call Candor Questions – about you? For most people, the answer is no. Most managers don’t ask these questions. And most employees are not comfortable giving this information, especially if the manager hasn’t asked for it.

It’s easy to mistake my book, How to Say Anything to Anyone, as a book about giving feedback. It’s not. It takes me nine chapters to get to feedback. The first eight chapters of the book are about how to create relationships in which you can tell the truth without fear. You can read all the feedback books you want and take numerous training classes on coaching, managing people, giving feedback, and managing conflict, and you’ll still be hesitant to speak up, because a formula for giving feedback is not what you’re missing. What’s missing is being given permission and knowing it’s safe to tell the truth.

How to Retain Good Employees

Managers, here’s how to retain good employees:

“I appreciate you choosing to work here. I want this to be the best career move you’ve made, and I want to be the best boss you’ve had. I don’t want to have to guess what’s important to you. I’d like to ask you some questions to get to know you and your career goals better. Please tell me anything you’re comfortable saying. And if you’re not comfortable answering a question, just know that I’m interested and I care. And if, at any point, you’re comfortable telling me, I’d like to know.”

How to Retain Good EmployeesThen ask the Candor Questions during job interviews, one-on-one, and team meetings. We’re always learning how to work with people. So continue asking questions throughout your relationships. These conversations are not one-time events.

If you work for someone who isn’t asking you these questions, offer the information. You could say:

“I wanted to tell you why I chose this organization and job, and what keeps me here. I also want to tell you the things I really need to be happy and do my best work. Is it ok if I share?”

Your manager will be caught off guard, but it is likely that she will also be grateful. It’s much easier to manage people when you know what they need and why. Most managers want this information, it just may not occur to them to ask.

If the language above makes you uncomfortable, you can always blame me. You could say:

“I read this blog and the author suggested I tell you what brought me to this organization and what I really need to be happy here and do my best work. She said I’d be easier to manage if you had that information. Is it ok if I share?”

Yes, this might feel a little awkward at first, but the conversation will flow, and both you and your manager will learn a great deal about each other.

The ability to tell the truth starts with asking questions, giving people permission to speak candidly, and listening to the answers.
How to Retain Good Employees


Be a Best Company – Four Employee Retention Strategies

I could give you a list of fifty employee retention strategies you could follow to improve employee performance, engagement and retention. But the truth is, there are really just four things you must do. Employees may appreciate the other 46 things but don’t necessarily need them to stay with your organization and do their best work.Ways to retain employees

The Colorado Society of Human Resource Management hosts an annual Best Companies competition, and organizations of all sizes compete. Last year I led a workshop before the awards ceremony. The purpose of the workshop was to share the things that make an organization a great place to work. While researching the program, the things that separate the great companies from the less desirable places to work became very clear. I’ll share those employee retention strategies here.

Employees ask themselves these questions at work:

  • Do I trust the leaders of this organization?
  • Does my opinion/voice matter in this organization?
  • Do I have a good relationship with my manager?
  • Is my manager invested in helping me advance my career?

Employees enjoy yoga, concierge service, espresso, and social events at work, but these perks don’t necessarily improve retention or performance. The only perk known to improve employee loyalty and commitment is a flexible schedule.  Everything else is nice to have, but not essential.

This is what’s really important to your employees:

  • I trust the leaders who run this organization.
  • My opinion means something.  I am listened to.
  • I feel respected (by my manager) and have good relationships in the organization.
  • My work is challenging and interesting.

So what should you do if you want to be a best place to work? 

Four Employee Retention Strategies Leaders Can Use to Create Relationships with Employees at All Levels:

1.  Know employees’ names, talents & career goals.

2. Be visible. Talk to employees.

3.  Give more information than you think you need to. Employees want to know how your organization is performing.

  • Hold town hall meetings. Give financial updates.
  • Use ‘Ask the CEO’ boxes to encourage questions and feedback.
  • Encourage senior leaders to conduct small, roundtable discussions with employees at all levels.

4.  Align leaders’ words and actions.

  • Organizational guidelines are applied consistently among all employees.
  • Don’t gossip or chuck other leaders under the bus.
  • Be consistent. Don’t say, “The CEO says this, but we’re going to do this instead.”

Four Employee Retention Strategies Managers Can Take:

1.   Meet one-on-one with employees and have meaningful discussions about employees’ performance and career goals.

2.  Ask employees for their opinion and demonstrate that you’ve heard them.

3.  Provide opportunities for employees to do work they enjoy.

4.  Ensure employees who want to advance in your organization are learning and growing.

Read about our Be a Great Place to Work leadership training program designed for Senior Leaders and HR Professionals.


Thank You Notes For Employees – Engage & Retain Employees

When I was 27 my boss gave me a yellow sticky note that said “thanks” for something I had done well at work.  When I was 29 he gave me a card when I broke up with a long term boyfriend. I still have both. And I’m way past 27 and 29.

He is the only manager in my entire career who wrote me a personal note. And it meant everything to me. He took the time to do something others didn’t. The notes were personal and thus they meant something to me – they still do.  And the notes took him only seconds to write and cost almost nothing.

When is the last time you received a handwritten note? Not a note from Send Out Cards, that is made to look handwritten, or a note written by someone’s assistant, or a note that was typed and then hand signed? Rather, a real handwritten note, with a message, just for you? My guess is not in a long time.

Your employees like perks – paid time off, gift cards, bonuses, onsite yoga classes, concierge service, etc. But perks are not what result in engaged and retained employees.  There is a lot of research on what results in employees doing their best work and being loyal to both their manager and to the organization.

Here’s a snap shot of some of the research on engaging and retaining employees.

Employees:

  • Need to trust senior management
  • Want to work for someone who cares about them, is invested in their success, and with whom they have a good relationship

I won’t tell you not to give bonuses or gift cards, but I will tell you to give each bonus and gift card with a handwritten note. The handwritten note will mean more and last longer. I promise you.

I admit I love stationery.  In fact, I collect it. I always have a stash of cards, ready to go for any occasion. And if you know me long and well enough, you will receive a handwritten note from me.

Because I love stationery so much, I’ve always wanted to create a line of greeting cards, and now we have. Today we’re launching Candor Cards.  Thank you notes for employees designed to help you say what you want to say.

Use the cards at work and at home to:Thank you notes for employees

  • Say thank you
  • Provide encouragement
  • Give positive feedback
  • Say you’re sorry
  • Reinforce training

I hope you like and use our thank you notes for employees! Enjoy!

Spend less. Say more.

Thank you notes for employees


Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Work without Spending Money

Valentine’s Day at WorkMany organizations spend more money than they have to on employee recognition gifts and appreciation programs that often involve bonuses, paid time off, contests, gifts, and other expensive forms of compensation. What employees want most is to know they’re doing a good job.

Giving feedback in the workplace is the cheapest, most effective, and often overlooked form of employee recognition. Employees want to know how they’re performing, and most employees get little to no positive or constructive feedback at work. They may not want to hear negative feedback, but employees want to know if they aren’t meeting expectations.

In one of Candid Culture’s training programs, I give participants a box of questions to help coworkers set expectations and improve workplace communication.  Some of the questions include:

  • Do you prefer to receive information via email, voicemail, or text message?
  • Are you a big picture or a detail person?
  • What are your pet peeves at work?
  • What type of work do you like to do most? What type of work do you like to do least?
  • What do you wish I would start, stop, and continue doing?

I am consistently amazed at how often training participants ask what their coworkers wish they would start, stop and continue doing. I assume employees will be hesitant to ask for constructive feedback in front of a group of peers. But training participants consistently tell me that they get almost no positive or constructive feedback at work, and they’re desperate for the information.

Here’s How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Work Without Spending Money:

  1. Give clear, specific, and timely positive and negative feedback. Employees want to know how they’re performing.
  2. Ask what type of work employees really want to do, and let them do that work most of the time.
  3. Ask what skills employees want to learn, and give them a chance to attain those skills.
  4. Write hand written notes of appreciation.

Employees at Candid Culture get their birthdays off paid. We often buy employees lunch, give bonuses, and have a generous time off policy. Those perks are important and do help retain employees. But monetary rewards never replace or supersede the value of being aware of employees’ performance and caring enough to tell employees the truth.


You Get What You Give – Engaging and Retaining Employees

A few weeks ago I flew an airline whose employees were universally nasty. Every person I interacted with –from the person who checked me in for the flight, to the gate agent who scanned tickets, to the flight attendant on the plane–was nasty without being provoked.

you get what you give

There are two reasons why employees in various roles and locations are universally nasty to customers. Either employees feel they are treated poorly by the organization’s leaders, and they knowingly or unknowingly take their frustration out on customers, or there are insufficient expectations for good customer service. Given the competitive nature of the airline industry, I’m going to assume customer service standards are in place, and employees are reacting to how they feel they’re treated by the organization.

Your employees will not treat customers better than you treat your employees. You get what you give. Expecting employees to treat customers better than the employees feel treated is akin to buying subpar building materials and expecting superior construction. It isn’t going to happen.

Your organization’s handbook and customer service training programs can outline explicit instructions for how customers should be treated, but if the practices for treating employees are markedly different, don’t expect great customer service.

This begs the question, what does it mean to treat employees well? Don’t all employees need different things to be happy? What about the differences between Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y employees?

In my experience people of all ages need many of the same things to be satisfied in a job. Employees want to learn, grow, and feel challenged. They want to work in an environment in which they feel comfortable–they like the people and feel accepted and respected. They want to make a difference and contribute to something bigger than themselves. And they want the flexibility to control their schedule and personal lives. Depending on an employee’s stage in life and career, some of these things become more important than others.

The difference between Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y: I don’t think each group needs drastically different things to be satisfied at work. In my experience, the key difference between the groups is that Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers will put up with not having everything they want. Gen Y’ers will not. Baby Boomers and Generation X will put up with a boss or job they don’t like for two years, waiting to see if things improve. Millennials are more impatient. If they don’t think they can get what they want from a job or organization, they move on quickly.

The quickest and easiest thing managers can do to engage and retain employees of all ages and stages in their careers is to ask what employees need to be satisfied. And no, employees may not tell you. There is an almost universal and pervasive fear in organizations to speak candidly with one’s manager. But employees definitely won’t tell you what they need to stay with your organization if you don’t ask. And even if employees aren’t candid about their desires, you still get points for asking the questions most managers don’t.

In every leadership, management and coaching class I teach, I ask managers to answer these questions:

• What are your employees’ career deal breakers? What would make your employees leave your organization?
• What kind of work do your employees like to do most? What kind of work do they like to do least?
• So you can provide personalized recognition they’ll appreciate, what are your employees’ favorite
hobbies, foods, and places to eat or shop?
• What are employees’ pet peeves at work?

I’ve asked these questions of thousands of managers, and few can answer the questions. If you can’t, without absolute certainty, answer these questions about your employees, don’t be surprised that you aren’t getting the performance you desire. How can you manage and motivate employees if you don’t know what’s important to them?

The easiest thing to do today to raise employee performance, and in turn improve customer service, is to ask your employees what they need, and when appropriate, give employees those things. If you can’t provide what employees what, tell employees why you can’t honor their requests. Rationale, the answer to the question why not, goes a long way.

You may be wondering, isn’t it worse to ask employees what they want and have to say no, than not to ask at all?” Quite simply, no. Not asking about employees’ needs because we may not be able to tell them yes is akin to the fallacy that if we don’t talk about something it doesn’t really exist.
Employees want what they want, regardless of whether you talk about those desires or not. I’d much rather have an open discussion about not being able to meet an employee’s needs, and know they will job hunt, then be surprised when they quit. If employees’ desires are truly deal breakers, you’ll lose them anyway. If you know what employees want, you can negotiate and attempt to meet some or all of their needs, giving you more control over employee engagement and retention.

Ask what employees need to stay with your organization and be satisfied, and watch performance, morale, and customer service rise.


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