Monday, June 9, 2008

Idiot’s Guide to Keeping Good Employees

First of all, if you’re reading this blog, you are NOT an idiot. Idiot leaders don’t read blogs about how to be better leaders. You’re probably already a pretty good leader, and trying to get even better.

The point of this post is to demystify and simply what it takes to prevent your good employees from walking out the door. I’ll do my best to keep all words under three syllables and the bulls--t jargon to a minimum.

1. Retention starts with the hiring process. Hire good employees that are a good fit for the job and chances are those employees will be successful and satisfied. See The 10 Most Serious Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, by Brad Smart.

2. Run a successful business or team. That’s your #1 priority as a leader. No one likes playing on a losing team or going down with a sinking ship. Bad employees will stay and suffer, good employees will eventually leave. If you’re faced with this kind of turnaround challenge, don’t let your HR manager talk you into doing an employee satisfaction survey. Invite them to step up and help you right the business – that’s the most important thing you can do to satisfy your employees.

3. Provide a good on boarding experience. The first 90 days, and then the first year are critical for retention. Make sure your new employees get the training, coaching, and support they need to be successful.

4. Provide competitive salaries and benefits. Use salaries and benefits as a baseline, and build meaningful perks from there.

5. Trust them. Give employees the opportunity to use their unique strengths every day. Many of the best ideas float up to the top from down below—if that is allowed and encouraged. If it isn’t, employees may get bored or upset, and they won’t be doing what they do best.

6. Provide career development opportunities. Have regular career discussions with employees, allow them to explore options, provide information about opportunities, help them make connections, and for God’s sake, DO NOT treat them like un-grateful traitors if they are interested in exploring other opportunities.

7. Build a relationship with every employee. Get to know each of your employees, find our about their personal lives, their interests, values, hopes, fears, and wishes. Show them that you care, and you’re looking out for their best interests and want them to be successful. Take the time to have regular 1on1s, with no interruptions and your undivided attention. And yes, that means turn off your damn Treos and Blackberrys.

8. Say "thank you." In creative, informal ways, acknowledge how much employees’ various contributions mean to you—perhaps through a sealed note left on a chair after hours, a warm voice message, or a bouquet of flowers.

9. Deal with under performers. Good employees don’t like working with laggards. Train, coach, counsel, or fire them, consistently and with dignity.

10. Respect individuality. Not all employees are created equal. Recognize their individual needs, and adapt assignments, perks, and recognition accordingly.

No comments: