Gunther, an executive with a thick German accent, knows that employee retention is important in a down economy. He isn’t lulled into the trap of thinking that with jobs in short supply, employees won’t have anywhere to go.
As Gunther told me, “It’s never the middle-of-the-road or your worst employees who cause problems by leaving. It’s the star performers, the highly engaged employees who leave.
That’s why in a multinational, global company, we’re ALWAYS focused on employee retention.”
Gunther’s right. But many companies don’t get it, because they’re too busy implementing the 4 best practices to destroy employee retention:
1) Focus on the wrong things. Employees tend to focus on the things leaders talk about. If you talk about sales quotas, they’ll focus on meeting the quota. Employees will then bring in bad customers, unprofitable customers, customers from hell. But they’ll meet the sales quota.
Profitability is another wrong focus. When you as a leader focus on profitability, employees will presume you’re focusing on YOUR profitability, and employees don’t care about that. Instead, focus on the grand purpose, on the customers. This engages the employees.
2) Short-term thinking. Employees want to work for companies
that take a longer-term, more strategic view. They want to see
how what they do fits into the long term strategy.
You should be thinking about the changing global market place, and how to plan for changes, so that your organizations, and employees, continue being responsive to the market, and to your customers.
3) A “can’t do” mentality. You know this one. We “can’t do” a technology upgrade, which would improve customer service and make life easier for employees, because it’s not in the budget. (But a makeover of the boss’ office or the executive cafeteria, we “can do” that.)
We “can’t do” employee development because we’re too pressed for time. We “can’t do” better as a company because of (take your pick) the down economy, cheating by the competition, bad luck, etc. Employees see through this mentality; it’s why they leave.
4) Wretchedly poor communication. Many companies do this one so well, they’ve got it down to a science. Some don’t communicate at all. Others communicate the wrong messages in the wrong ways.
Or, their communication is riddled with hypocrisy. They tell everyone about their “open door policy,” but their doors are always closed, sometimes literally (I’ve actually seen this), other times figuratively. Drives managers and employees crazy, and right out the door.
So there you have the 4 best practices for destroying employee retention. Your job as a leader is to take a hard look at yourself, and your organization, to determine how many of the 4 best practices you’re using.
Then, eliminate them from your toolbox, delete them from your operating system. Employee retention is crucial, even in a down economy. Gunther obviously realizes this. You should too.
Which of the best practices are you guilty of? What specifically will you do to hit the delete button on them?
Until next edition, keep leading the way!
Copyright (C) 2009 by Terry Wall