Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Secret to Higher Retention and Performance

Here's a little advice for CEOs (and managers) from Beth Armknecht Miller. Beth is a Vistage Chair and executive coach. I'll bet you've never heard of Vistage - most of us have not. They're kind of of a Facebook for CEOs, with over 14,000 members, but they're been around for 50 years. For the right price, I'll show your their super secret handshake. (-:

A recent Employee Engagement Survey by HR Solutions of Chicago revealed that employees were more engaged with their work when they felt:

1. Supported by their manager when making suggestions to correct work place problems.

2. Valued and recognized as an important part of the team.

3. Their manager was helpful and friendly towards them.

So what can happen if your employees are disengaged?

According to the study, business leaders will experience a lower level of productivity from team members. And based on the research done by Marcus Buckingham in "First Break all the Rules", employees who don’t feel valued are more likely to leave in search of an employer who does value and recognize them for their accomplishments. Low employee engagement can also lead to lower profits and levels of customer satisfaction.

Ultimately, it is the employee’s manager who is the key driver in employee engagement. The CEO’s responsibility is to insure that managers are provided the development opportunities to increase their leadership capacity. Because managers are the ones who directly influence employee opinions and attitudes, their development is critical.

What is your company’s level of employee engagement and how do you measure it?

For most companies an employee satisfaction survey provides anonymity to employees, providing them with a platform to be open and honest with their feedback. However, for smaller, emerging growth companies a survey may be overkill. Personal interviews using an outside consultant can also provide honest feedback. The key to a good survey are obviously the questions. You need to understand how to create good survey questions or outsource this process to someone who has the expertise.

Once you’ve received feedback, then it is time to develop an action plan to increase employee engagement. Although you may find that your employees are highly engaged, even companies with high levels of engagement can improve their employee engagement level. Results of your survey or personal interviews may show a systemic problem across your organization or may show intermittent problems. The problems could be with a specific department which may mean managerial development is needed.

With increased competition for knowledge workers because of a growing talent shortage, this is not the time to shelve the survey or personal interview results until your next budget season. Now, not later, is the time to take action!

What should be the key steps in your action plan?

First, identify those areas that could have the biggest impact on improving future survey results. Concentrate on only one or two areas to improve and identify those leaders that need to be involved with implementing the improvements. For instance, your survey may show that recognition for a job well done is not done in a timely fashion. If this is the case, identify what processes can be implemented to improve the recognition process and then provide the necessary training for the managers who will be involved with implementing the changes. Next, determine ways of measuring the effectiveness of the changes because you don’t want to find out in your next survey that the changes made had no effect in solving the problem of untimely recognition.

Remember that results of the survey and your committed action steps for improvement also need to be communicated to employees in a timely fashion. This is critical to the ongoing process of honest employee feedback and for increasing employee engagement levels.

By implementing an employee engagement action plan, your employees will be more engaged with their work, will truly feel valued, and will know they will be recognized for their accomplishments. Company loyalty and employee retention will rise. Furthermore, engaged employees contribute to higher levels of customer satisfaction and more importantly, increased profits.

Beth Armknecht Miller, of Atlanta, Georgia, is Founder and President of Executive Velocity, a leadership development advisory firm accelerating the leadership success of CEOs and business leaders. She is also a Vistage Chair and Executive Coach. She is certified in Myers Briggs and Hogan leadership assessment tools and is a Certified Managerial Coach by Kennesaw State University. Visit or or follow her on twitter at SrExecAdvisor.


Craig Juengling said...

Beth summed up well the most important steps to creating a highly engaged workplace. The outcomes and results of an engaged employee vs. a satisfied employee are significant. As a former C-Level hospital exec and now Executive Coach, I preach and teach on employee engagement. It simply is the most important strategy a CEO or business owner can deploy to create a sustainable business.

Beth Miller said...


Thanks for the positive feedback. If there is any steps you have used in the past, please share with our readers.



sunil saraf said...

Beth has have been able to address the fundamentals. Besides what has been mentioned, I would like to add few more organisational traits that enhances retention. To me it is more important that employee retains the organisation instead of vice-versa. The organisation needs to create an environment that is responsive, vibrant and approachable inducing motivation to adopt the organisation by the employee. It is the culture and belief of empowerment allowing audacious thinking enabling employee to add value. Constructive confrontation and ability to laugh at self inspires the employee for outlying performance.

Dr. Alan Zimmerman said...

What a great summation on employee engagement. This is crucial to a productive working environment. I’ve come across way too many organizations who are either unwilling or unable to involve their people when it comes to setting up the important stuff … like the creation of a mission statement. Involving your employees in these types of initiatives not only engages them, but it helps them feel valued.

Susan said...

This is so true. Employees require more than a pat on the back (although that helps as well), they need to feel like they're really part of the company, not just be seen as people who are assigned some necessary tasks.