Recovery Proof Your Team in 2013

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In Blog

A recent CNN Money article reports hiring was up and unemployment down – the lowest in 3 years – in numbers reported at the end of December 2012. Also, results of a recent survey conducted by GlassDoor.com point to increases in employee confidence.

team-building-2Combine these numbers, and also consider that the GlassDoor.com survey says 1 in 5 of your employees will be looking – if they haven’t started already – for a new job in 2013’s first quarter alone.

If organizations intend to keep their best employees from jumping ship, retention efforts need serious attention. Now.

In addition to my day job, I am also managing partner and director of dinner for Masse Enterprises (i.e. wife and mom to my great family). I had a recent “retention and engagement challenge” at home that is absolutely applicable to the workplace.

Micromanaging at Its Finest

My elementary-aged son and I recently established ourselves at the kitchen table and set to work on a presentation on Neil Armstrong he would be giving to his class. He set to work on writing out what he wanted to say… and it all goes downhill from there.

In short, I was not paying attention to the way he wanted to accomplish the task at hand. And I was spending more time outlining “better ways” to do it versus empowering him to do it well his own way.

He finished the written portion and when asked if he wanted to practice aloud came the obvious answer: “No.”

Creating Disengagement

As the “manager,” I:

  • −      Assumed we shared the same vision for his report.
  • −      Pushed for him to do it the way I would have done it.
  • −      Forgot that he really only needed me as a resource (e.g., to help read complicated websites and other resources to get information).
  • −      Along the way, neglected to tell him what a nice job he was doing.

I created disengagement and of course the little project that was supposed to fun “Mommy & Son” time not only took longer but created massive frustration on both ends.

Leaders and managers, there are better ways to keep employees engaged and keep them from running for the closest “greener” pasture.

  1. Respect ‘em.
    You hired them for the value they could bring to your team. Get out of their way and let them do just that… their own unique way. It starts with understanding their needs AND strengths:
    Managing “Fact Finders”: Detailed to the nth degree. Give them time to research and prioritize the necessary details that ensure they will give you the most strategic answers and decisions.
    Managing “Follow-Thrus”: With meticulous desks as the end of the workday. Give them authority to create order, such as creating and managing a solid work plan that keeps projects organized and brings them to completion.
    Managing “Quick Starts”: Change and new ideas rule here. Allow them to experiment with potential opportunities or ways of getting work done, to brainstorm ideas, jump in head first, refine as they go and suggest creative ideas for new ways of tackling strategic goals.
    Managing “Implementors”: Natural builders and beta-testers, they are your “hands-on” employees.  Give them time and resources to test their ideas and plans. They add the most value and feel most rewarded when their work results in something tangible and high quality.
    Understand the way THEY work best and let them do it. Match natural talents and strengths to the job(s) to keep them from going to work for the competitor!
  2. Train ‘em.
    And by all means, train managers to manage. At OI Partners-Denver, we’ve had more conversations recently with organizations recognizing the need to fill the management skill gap for soon-to-be or recently promoted first-time managers. Technical experts possibly went to school for 4-6 years to become an expert in their field. Yet how many of them are promoted because they were “technically” good at their job and expected – overnight! – to know, magically, how to be a great manager. Would you agree these are vastly different skills sets?
  3. Reward ‘em.
    As managers and leaders, we are quick to correct “bad” behavior. Reprimands, development plans, official warnings are all to be documented, in fact.

What if we spent more time catching them doing something right and rewarding them for “good” behavior?

Despite what many managers and organization leaders may think, more money is rarely the only answer for keeping best employees from jumping ship. A study by Kenneth Kovach of George Mason University compared employees’ ranking of what they wanted from their jobs with what their bosses thought was important to the employees. “Good wages” was fifth for employees after the more important:

  1. Interesting work (that is, interesting to them not the manager)
  2. Appreciation of work
  3. Feeling “in on things”
  4. Job security 

When I saw that my son was completely disengaging from the work, I finally made changes to how we were working together. Thankfully, I was able to make it up to him with a matinee movie and Whoppers.

A final thought.

Organization leaders and managers take heed: Work now on creating mutual respect, getting the right people in the right jobs and training them, then rewarding them with what’s meaningful to them so it’s not too late to keep your best employees from jumping ship this year.

Meredith Masse is a Kolbe Certified Consultant with OI Global Partners – Innovative Career Consulting.

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